Help your help come faster with these 9-1-1 tips.

ER & First Aid

When an emergency strikes a countdown starts and the sooner people get the emergency care they need the better their chance of a happy outcome. Calling 9-1-1 is the fastest way to get expert care—but there are things you can do to make that response time even faster.

Call from a landline whenever possible

When you call 9-1-1 from a landline the dispatcher is able to pinpoint your location immediately and direct an ambulance to that location even while gathering data about the nature of the emergency. Cell phones do not provide an exact location, only a general area. If you do have to use a cell phone, describe your location as fully as possible soon into your conversation with the dispatcher. That way, if you are disconnected or you become unable to speak, the paramedics will still know where to find you.

Don’t hang up

There is a reason that 9-1-1 operators ask you to stay on the line – two actually. If the person’s condition changes, the 9-1-1 operator can make the paramedics on route aware and they’ll be better prepared to deliver immediate aid on arrival. Also the operators themselves can provide information and first aid instructions to do while you are waiting for help to arrive.

Know your device

If you are hearing or speech impaired, you may have systems that help you communicate by phone—either a TTY/TTD, Video Relay Service (VRS) or Internet Protocol (IP) Relay. These can help you in your 9-1-1 communications but it’s important that you know how to set them up and use them properly. Some devices need to be registered so they can share your location. Others may have a short lag time between when you place the call in the device and when it goes through to 9-1-1 making it even more critical that you don’t hang up.

Know your device and how to best use it in an emergency. And if you don’t have your device when you need emergency help, call 9-1-1 anyway and make some noise.

Make noise

Some symptoms can affect your ability to speak or to be understood. If you are having trouble with speaking on your 9-1-1 call, make some noise—anything that lets the operator know that there is someone there. The operator is trained to listed for background noise and will not hang up until help arrives.

Consider an app

In Case of Emergency (ICE) apps give paramedics access to critical medical information from your smart phone without having to unlock your device. Learn more about how to choose and use ICE apps.

Be honest

If you know the patient took illegal drugs or used a legal substance inappropriately—tell the 9-1-1 operator and EMTs. Your honesty may save their life.

Stay calm and listen

Your 9-1-1 operator is trained to get the most important information from you first so that the right help can be sent your way. Staying calm will help you listen and respond to the operator’s questions.

Avoid pocket dials

Cell phones can call 9-1-1 without being unlocked—or even being active with a carrier. So never give an old phone to a child as a toy.

If you do call 9-1-1 by accident, don’t hang up without telling the operator that the call was a mistake. Otherwise, the operator will need to call you back to make sure there is no emergency and critical services may be deployed unnecessarily—making them less ready for the next caller.

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