911 Dispatcher

School Personnel Call 911: What to Expect

What Schools Should Expect When Calling 911: A Dispatcher’s Perspective*

What to Expect:

School personnel call 911 for an emergency, but what should they expect? The dispatcher will need immediate information from the caller. The dispatcher enters information into a CAD system (Computer Aided Dispatch) and then dispatches to the appropriate responders. Wherever they may be calling from, the information needed is the same nationally. What’s the most important data to provide to a dispatcher when school personnel call 911? Location, Location, Location. If nothing else, a 911 communications center can send help to a specific location. Typically, the dispatcher will ask for the general location and then an exact location. The dispatcher will ask for a name and a phone number in the event of a disconnection. Next, the dispatcher will ask exactly what is happening. It is best practice to have a reporting party stay on the phone and answer necessary questions that are pertinent to the responders arriving to the school or nearby location. 

When to Call:

When it is in discussion that emergency services will respond to the school, whether inside the school or on school grounds, that is the time a 9-1-1 call should be made. We have had hundreds of trainings where public safety personnel reaffirm they prefer to respond to a false alarm than not be called at all.

Important Points to Remember:

Again: location, location, location. Depending on jurisdiction, meeting policies, and procedures specific to protocols, getting the location will be first and foremost and then the dispatcher will need to know the exact location. While each jurisdiction may ask in a different order, I believe it is necessary for the responders to know exactly where the incident is occurring. Along with the location and exact location is the caller information.  Name, phone number and reporting party location if different from exact location. Then the chief complaint or exactly what is occurring. 

911 Call Example:

School to Communications Center

Communications Center – 9-1-1 What is the location of Your Emergency?

School Response – Lincoln High school

CC – What is the address of the high school

CC Note: Even though the Comm Center may have the address, it’s good for the reporting party to verbally provide the address. The dispatcher may ask the caller to verify the address to confirm that what they have is correct.

School Response – 1234 Main St.

CC Note: You don’t have to provide City and State, however if the Comm Center dispatches for multiple City and County jurisdictions, the Comm Center may ask for the City or County. The Comm Center will dispatch resources once they have a verified location in their CAD system.

CC – Tell me exactly what happened?  

School Response – We have a student who has been hit by a car in the main parking lot.

Comm Center Note: Dispatch will update responders with exactly what is happening.

CC – The Comm Center then asks questions: how it happened, description of vehicle, and an update on student who was hit.  

CC Note: Take a deep breath and remember to speak calmly and clearly.

Additional Notes:

They may EMD the call if necessary. If the caller is in a safe location and can stay on the phone, the dispatcher will continue to get pertinent information and update responders until on scene. The school should try to have someone who can meet the responders to direct them where to go. If the SchoolSAFE connection is activate, this allows responders to talk directly with the school’s Incident Commander via radio, saving time and clarity. 

The Incident Commander is a chosen person who communicates with responders over the connection. This keeps multiple people trying to provide information to the responders. This may cause confusion and can tie up the radio with unnecessary chatter. Remember, the 911 call comes first, then the dispatcher determines whether or not to connect the responders to the Incident Commander.

The school safety team can help get more information to the Incident Commander, improving the communication flow. While the Incident Commander is talking to the responders on the radio, the 911 call can still be active. Or, the dispatcher may determine the situation is in good hands and hang up. The initial 911 call requiring outside resources, with good information about the incident, will have an effective and efficient communications dialog with an outcome that is suitable for all involved.

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*Cindi Dieck is a Public Safety Liaison with SchoolSAFE after spending 25 years with Public Safety. The last 10 years of her career was spent as a Communications Manager as well as an Adjunct Instructor in Colorado teaching Emergency Dispatch. She has been married to an LEO (Law Enforcement Officer) for 22 years and they have 5 cool dogs*

Reopening K-12 Schools

How do schools reopen in the fall with the ever-changing COVID-19 recommendations? The CDC provides some guidance.

We have been so impressed with school districts’ ability to adapt to the COVID-19 restrictions going on throughout Colorado. Currently, we are working with districts on continuing trainings for the next school year. We are also having discussions about what the school climate may look like in the fall. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the leading, national public health institute of the United States. They have provided a decision tree to assist administrators in making school reopening decisions regarding K-12 schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of course, districts need to take their local and state recommendations into consideration. This could be a useful tool for administrators looking toward the 2020-2021 school year.
Want to discuss with us? Contact us.

CDC’s Tool to Assist Administrators’ Decision-Making During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Dig Out from the Shifting Sands of Priority

A District Security Personnel’s Perspective

Since schools are temporarily closed in Colorado due to the spread of COVID-19, I’m thinking back to my career in K-12 public schools and what I can do with extra time on my hands. During the school year, I remember being very busy with day-to-day things that would come up and feeling like the things that were important were being buried under the urgencies of the day. As a year-round employee, I remember looking forward to Summer Break, or even the brief respite of Winter Break that allowed me to do things I knew were important.

So now, with time on my hands, unable to go to the office each day, what do I do to continue working on our district’s safety? I’m getting paid, I have a job, and I have some short, medium, and long-term goals I’ve been trying to make time for – what a great opportunity! Should I spend a little extra time forming my persuasive arguments for that grant request that would give me the resources to move a project forward? Yes, a resounding yes! After all, chances of getting limited school district funds allocated to this school safety project are slim, there are simply too many other priorities competing for the funds. Now that I have some alone time without the latest mini-crisis erupting at one of my schools, I can do some research, gather my thoughts, and make my best case why my district is deserving of these funds.

Could I also spend some time re-visiting the FEMA online safety courses I last took four years ago? Yes! I’m guessing they have been updated since I last took the course and I have the opportunity to follow the links to learn more. I am finally able to delve more deeply into these topics that might make a difference and will certainly make me more informed, perhaps even leading to better decisions the next time our district crisis team comes together to deal with any crisis: the broken water main, the science room mishap that became a HAZMAT release, the latest bomb threat, or the 100 white mice released at the high school as the Senior Prank of the year.

When was the last time I checked to be sure I had the right names and numbers in the Crisis Plan for the health department, or the disaster recovery company? I’ve got a little time, why not look it up, make a few calls, and be more prepared to call the indoor air quality firm to do air testing the next time a student spills a jar of mercury he found in his grandfather’s garage in the middle of the cafeteria at lunchtime? I can’t remember the last time I chatted with the SRO sergeant; I wonder how she’s doing?

Yes, even though I’m at home for the next few weeks with this social distancing, there’s still plenty of work I could get done. My binge watching of Better Call Saul can wait, I’ve got some work to do.

From Our Team

With the spread of COVID-19, we find ourselves in a difficult time. Our thoughts are with everyone who has been impacted by this situation. We will continue to operate in the best interests of our families, customers, and communities.

The health and safety of everyone in our SchoolSAFE family is our priority.

• To protect our team members, customers, and the communities we serve, we will temporarily close our offices through 04/06/2020.
• During this time, our offices will be professionally cleaned and sanitized.
• Our employees will be fully supported while our offices are closed.
• We will continue to offer our customers the option to communicate via email and other telecommuting methodologies to continue to make their schools safer.

We will keep you posted as we follow the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as local and U.S. government officials.

Thank you for being part of our SchoolSAFE community.