THINGS I LEARNED IN MY DECADE AS A 911 DISPATCHER

What we wish you knew...
  1. When they say evacuate, evacuate.
  2. If you hear a suspicious noise within 2 hours of watching something scary it's time to go to bed and shut down your imagination.
  3. Just because someone sounds calm and collected doesn't mean it's not a category 5 emergency.
  4. If you have wood-burning fires in your fireplace and never have your chimney cleaned you will eventually have a house fire.
  5. Never leave the dryer going if you aren't nearby. Dryer fires are real.
  6. Whatever it is, it can happen to you.
  7. If you're questioning whether or not to see the doctor in the daytime, you'll likely be in an ambulance by midnight.
  8. If your car doesn't maneuver well in the snow don't go out driving in the snow.
  9. If you call 911 to report your power's out, be prepared to tell the dispatcher who in your home is on life support, or who has respiratory issues requiring oxygen or a nebulizer. Cuz those are the only valid reasons to call.
  10. If you have electricity, you have a power bill. If you have a power bill, the company's contact number is printed on it. Use that number.
  11. No police department or fire station has a big switch to turn your power back on. We have power because we invested in emergency generators, which are widely sold.
  12. If you hear thunder and see lightning, rest assured police and fire personnel are scrambling to actual fires and emergencies. Respect that non-emergencies can wait.
  13. If you accidentally turn onto a road and realize you've pulled the wrong way onto railroad tracks, stop and reverse before the pavement ends and your car bottoms out. If you bottom out exit the vehicle quickly and call 911 with your location. Trains cannot quickly stop.
  14. If you hear suspicious noises and question if they were gunshots don't go to your window or front porch to investigate.
  15. Consider turning off your water at the interior shutoff if you'll be away for more than a couple of days. Even if your pipes don't burst, vandalism happens. I'll leave it at that.
  16. Your alarm company gets all your money, not the tax-funded police who actually respond. With the possible exception of a panic alarm, your burglar alarm will never top the priority list over other legitimate calls, nor should it.
  17. If you're told to exit your vehicle by police, exit your vehicle. Arguing the point in that moment will only escalate things and you won't win. Argue the point in court or to a supervisor later.
  18. I know where your rights (and mine) start and end. Do you? If not, whose fault is that?
  19. Being nice and cooperative can actually get you farther and potentially avoid the charges/arrest you may rightfully face.
  20. If your 17-year old kid is in possession of alcohol or any illegal substance when stopped by police, and you're called to the police station, check your attitude and don't argue the severity of the incident in front of your kid. Think about the example of accountability you're setting, or not setting. Your kid could be released or charged.
  21. Bringing kids to meet police officers, firefighters and dispatchers sets a positive tone in young minds, and they're quicker to call for help if they've seen who they're calling. Ask a dispatcher if kids can make a practice call. Just ask first.
  22. If you called 911 accidentally just say so. Hanging up and failing to answer our callback is a quick way to meet a police officer at your door.
  23. If you own a firearm be responsible. Practice from time to time at a range. Never shoot at what/whom you can't actually see.
  24. You are legally drunk much sooner than you think.
  25. People who have monitored driveway alarms which are reported to police for response are idiots. Three strikes and we're not responding anymore. It was a deer. Or a leaf.
  26. 911 isn't the tie-breaker for your 2am game of Trivial Pursuit.
  27. When you're issued a burn permit, the requirements to set the fire away from your house and to have a garden hose handy are rooted in good reason.
  28. When you are genuinely in emotional or physical pain on the line, we feel it and truly care. Sometimes what happens in your life sticks with us too.
  29. There are many different degrees of emergency. Your emergency may not qualify as my emergency. Have perspective.
  30. Have a fire extinguisher on every floor of your home. And know how to use it long before you need it.