911 education month focuses on teaching kids how to report an emergencyBy Emily Etheredge Published 9:39am Tuesday, April 9, 2013
“We have to treat every call we receive as an actual emergency call,” Wright said. “We get a lot of calls that are pranks which often transpire to a dispatcher processing the call and starting a law enforcement or EMS response.”
While Wright encourages parents to teach children to call 911, he stressed the importance of educating children to not play with 911 calls unless it is an emergency.
“Children should not be scared of calling and reporting something they feel is an emergency,” Wright said. “We do get phone calls from younger children that are playing with their parent’s cell phones and accidently press 911. Although we want them to not feel scared of calling us, they need to understand the importance of that call.”
The E-911 office has a number parents’ can call when educating their children about emergency response topics and “practice” 911 calls with a dispatcher.
“We want children to be comfortable calling,” Wright said. “We will actually have a dispatcher walk through all of the steps with the child just like they would during an emergency.”
A common conversation with a dispatcher speaking with a child (depending on the type of emergency) consists of the dispatcher asking what is the emergency, what type of situation happened, where is the child at the time of the call, who needs help, who is with them and is the child safe.
During the emergency call and once help is on the way, the dispatcher will often serve as the role of comforter.
“Whenever we have a child calling to report an emergency it is always a heightened sense of emergency,” Wright said. “We try to calm them down and make sure everything is OK and comfort them until help arrives.”
Wright acknowledges many parents have a belief that younger children are not capable of calling and often don’t teach them the importance of reporting emergency situations.
“If a child can operate a telephone, they can call and report an emergency,” Wright said. “Most children can detect when a situation requires emergency help and they need to know how to follow through with getting that help.”
Parents can call (205) 755-1120 to set up a time to practice a 911 call with their children or visit www.911forkids.com and get a downloadable emergency phone number list to place near a telephone.