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Let's take a typical 911 call to report a suspicious person or a vehicle. When you call 911 from your wired home phone, a computerized database maintained by your phone company will provide your name, telephone number and your address. However, that information may not be correct if you have recently moved or changed phone numbers. Therefore, the Telecommunicator will need to verify your address and phone number.

If the phone is from a business, the database will indicate the business name, telephone number of the business and the address of the business. However, that information may not be correct if the business you are calling from has more than one location. For example, Hickory Springs Manufacturing has more than one plant throughout Catawba County. The phone company will show the address and telephone number of the main plant. Therefore, the Telecommunicator will need to verify your address and phone number.

E911 TelecommunicatorIn addition, if you are calling from a cellular phone, the database will provide your cellular phone number and the address of the cell site you contacted. If you have a cellular phone that is reasonably new (made after October 2001), the database will also provide coordinates of your location and we will be able to find you within 55 yards, if you remain at the same location. However, this sometimes can take up to one minute for the database to give us that information. Therefore, the Telecommunicator will need to verify your location and phone number.

Additionally, to verifying your address, location and phone number, the Telecommunicator will verify where you need the assistance. You could be calling from your home about an incident up the street or for your next-door neighbor. If you can't give us the address, you may be asked for directions or a description of the location. Some other questions you will be asked are, WHERE, WHAT, WHEN, WHO, WHY and ARE THERE ANY WEAPONS. We may ask other questions to gather specific details about the location, suspects or victims.

Just as soon as we get the answers to WHERE and WHAT, the Telecommunicator can enter the call in the computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system and dispatch the appropriate public safety personnel to your call. After the Telecommunicator has dispatched the public safety personnel, then comes WHO. Do you know the person? You will need to describe the person. Describing a person is not as easy as it sounds and we will discuss that later. However, the Telecommunicator can guide you through this process. All additional information will be relayed to the public safety personnel.

You may or may not know the WHY. If you don't, that's ok, but most people have some idea or thought about what someone is up too. Could it be the ex-husband is up to no good? Could it be a burglar trying to break in? Let us know. You would be surprised how often your ideas or thoughts could be right.

If you are a little excited or in a panic when you call, it's OK. Just take a deep breathe and try to calm down. The Telecommunicators can assist you. We need you to be our eyes and ears.