The purpose of this page is to educate the public on our local 9-1-1 dispatch center and to help you understand what to expect in the event of a 9-1-1 call. The time to educate yourself is before the emergency.
Emergency versus non-emergency
Emergencies are situations that pose an immediate risk to health, life, property or environment.
Examples of emergencies include but are not limited to most medical related situations, burglaries or thefts in progress, immediate danger to personal safety, structure, brush and vehicle fires, vehicle accidents, etc.
Situations which would not be considered emergencies include requests for directions, request for the correct time, and requests for non-emergency phone numbers.
If at any time, you believe the situation requires an immediate response or you are unsure if your situation fits the criteria to place and emergency call, please use the 9-1-1 emergency number. Keep in mind that should you call 911 and the call is non-emergency related, you may be requested to call the non-emergency number to keep the 9-1-1 lines clear for more severe situations.
What to expect when dialing 9-1-1
When dialing 9-1-1 to report an emergency you can expect to receive an operator that has been trained in call taking techniques and will hand handle your call in a professional manner. If you should happen to receive an operator in training, rest assured the trainee has received training and has a communications training officer or supervisor nearby.
If you are calling in regarding a medical emergency, you can expect to have an operator who has been trained in emergency medical dispatch protocols conduct the interview process. (If you place a call requiring medical response within the city limits of Punta Gorda, you can expect to have your call transferred to the Charlotte County Public Safety Dispatch Center where your call will be answered by a trained operator processing of medical calls.)
You will be asked enough questions necessary to process a call for service where emergency medical units can be dispatched. While the units are being dispatched the operator will remain on the line to continue the questioning and pre-arrival instructions. Please do not assume that because you are being asked questions that units are not being dispatched. Additional questioning is necessary and information retrieved is relayed to the responding units. Pre-arrival instructions are provided via phone to prevent a decline in the patient’s medical situation prior to the EMS unit arrival.
Law enforcement and fire related emergencies may also require additional questioning and may provide basic instructions. These instructions are to maintain the safety of caller, those involved in or nearby the emergency and the responding units.
During any emergency call where the callers safety may be at risk, after being asked the most basic questions to send a law enforcement, medical or fire response, the caller may be asked to hang up the phone, get to a safe location and call back to provide additional information.
When calling the 9-1-1 emergency number the operator will begin to gather initial information. Please be prepared to provide the following information.
- The location of the emergency – (unit and building numbers when appropriate) – This is the most vital piece of information that can be provided. Without it, emergency responders cannot be sent.
- Cross Street – This is the intersecting street nearest the emergency situation.
- Caller’s phone number
- Caller’s name
- Chief Complaint or type of emergency
At this point, you will be asked additional questions concerning circumstances of the event. The questioning process may occur simultaneously while emergency responders are being dispatched.
Do’s and Don’ts when calling the 9-1-1 Emergency Number
- Remain calm
- Listen to what the operator is asking
- Speak clearly
- Provide information requested by the operator
- Let the operator know if your safety is at risk at any time during the call
- Don’t expect that the 9-1-1 center automatically has your location without you providing it.
- Don’t hang up the call until the operator instructs you to do so.
Please keep in mind that these are guidelines when calling 9-1-1. There are no hard and fast rules for calling 9-1-1.
Accidental 9-1-1 dials
If you should accidentally place a 9-1-1 call, do not hang up. Instead, remain on the line and tell the operator that you accidentally dialed. You will need to answer a few questions to include the location you are calling from. If for any reason, the operator has reason to believe that there is a potential problem at the residence, a deputy will be dispatched.