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Departments > Fire > Hot Topics > Using 911

Fire Department

Hot Topics

Using 911

The 911 emergency telephone system is in place in Waterford to assist citizens with POLICE, MEDICAL or FIRE emergencies.  Please realize that non-emergency calls to the 911 system can create delays in handling other very serious emergencies that require immediate attention.  The following are guidelines for the proper use of the 911 system for FIRE and MEDICAL emergencies in Waterford.

Concerned woman on phoneDO NOT CALL 911 for the following:

For non-emergency  transportation.  Use taxi cabs or call a PRIVATE AMBULANCE listed under AMBULANCE in your local telephone directory.

Examples of NON-EMERGENCY situations are:

  • MINOR illness or injury not requiring immediate help:
    • Flu/common cold
    • Chronic (ongoing) aches and pain
    • Minor cuts
    • Broken fingers or toes
  • EMOTIONAL UPSETS
  • ROUTINE TRANSPORTATION to medical offices, clinics and hospitals
  • Any other NON LIFE-THREATENING illness or injury

Remember, these are general guidelines. If there is any doubt call 911 immediately!

CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY for any of the following:

  1. For ANY kind of uncontrolled FIRE (not camp fires)
  2. For a LIFE-THREATENING EMERGENCY such as:
  • Breathing difficulty/shortness of breath/ breathing has stopped
  • Choking (can't talk or breathe)
  • Constant chest pain - in adults (lasting longer than two minutes)
  • Uncontrollable bleeding/large blood loss
  • Drowning
  • Electrocution
  • Drug overdose/poisoning
  • Gunshot wounds, stabbings
  • Vomiting blood
  • Sudden fainting /unconsciousness
  • Convulsions/seizures (uncontrolled jerking movements).
  • Severe allergic reaction (difficulty breathing/unresponsive)
  • Major burns (white or charred skin: blisters and redness over large area).
  • Someone who will not wake up, even when you shake them.
  • SEVERE injuries from:
    • Traffic accidents
    • Head Injury
    • Significant falls
    • Physical entrapment (i.e. car accident with victim trapped in the vehicle)

What happens when you call 911

911 should only be used when a true emergency exists, "POLICE", "FIRE", or "MEDICAL". Your call is received at the Waterford Township Central Dispatch Center located in the Police Department.  Immediately identify your call as a MEDICAL, FIRE or POLICE emergency. The dispatcher will ELECTRONICALLY RECEIVE the address and telephone number OF THE CALLER. However, if you are calling for someone else at a different location, be sure to make that known to the dispatcher.

Critical Information the Dispatcher Needs to Know

  • WHAT'S THE EMERGENCY? What's wrong?
  • WHERE IS THE EMERGENCY? Give the address, include building number, apartment number, nearest cross street. The name of the building is also helpful.
  • WHO NEEDS HELP? Age/ number of people
  • ARE THEY CONSCIOUS? Yes or no
  • ARE THEY BREATHING? Yes or no

The accuracy of all telephone numbers and addresses must be verified again by the dispatcher.  WAIT FOR THE DISPATCHER TO HANG UP BEFORE YOU DO.

Remain calm and give direct answers to the questions asked. Speak slowly and clearly. You will be asked additional questions so the dispatcher can send the right type of help. All questions are important.

The dispatcher may also provide you with CRITICAL PRE-ARRIVAL INSTRUCTIONS, such as CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) or the Heimlich Maneuver.

Understanding what happens when a 911 call is placed will help the system run more efficiently and will bring you the emergency service you need in the shortest possible time.

What to do Before the Fire Department Arrives

In the case of FIRE:
  • GET OUT of the house IMMEDIATELY
  • DO NOT try to put the fire out yourself
  • DO NOT go back into the house once you're outside
  • DO NOT take time to gather valuables

In the event of a MEDICAL EMERGENCY:
  • HAVE SOMEONE WAIT OUT FRONT to meet the paramedics and lead the way
  • WAVE A FLASHLIGHT, turn on the porch light if it's dark or visibility is poor
  • CONSIDER HAVING AN INTERPRETER if the patient does not speak English
  • SECURE PETS, especially dogs
  • HAVE A VISIBLE ADDRESS, easily readable from the street
  • GATHER OR MAKE A LIST OF MEDICATIONS that the patient is using and give it to emergency personnel
STARTING FIRST AID
  • If the victim is bleeding APPLY DIRECT PRESSURE OVER THE WOUND
  • If the victim is choking and can't breathe or talk PERFORM THE HEIMLICH MANEUVER
  • If the victim has no pulse and has stopped breathing BEGIN CPR