Bucks County Department of Emergency Communications offers tours to groups
who properly register with this department. If you are interested please
Stephen H. Reichman
Office: (215) 328-5155
Fax: (267) 885-1322
Here is a small glimpse of our communications center and information
on how a 9-1-1 call is processed.
Dialing 9-1-1 & How the Call Progresses:
Dialing 9-1-1 is a serious situation where the caller is declaring an emergency of some type. Whether it is involving a crime, a fire, a traffic accident, a medical emergency, 9-1-1 is there to connect our citizens to the emergency response system in the shortest amount of time. Remember: in an emergency situation involving life or property or any emergency situation requiring the immediate response from a fire truck, police car or ambulance, dial 9-1-1.
Here's what happens when you dial 9-1-1:
- Scenario: There is an emergency and you dial 9-1-1. The Emergency Dispatcher/9-1-1 Call Taker will answer the line with "9-1-1, Where is the emergency?" We answer the telephones in this manner so that you provide us with the most important piece of information - the location of the emergency, where emergency services are needed.
9-1-1 technology does provide our emergency dispatchers with Automatic Location Information (ALI) on a computer screen but our Dispatchers will still always verbally verify the location. Many times the calling party is calling from another location and not the location of the emergency. Thus, it is important to ask "9-1-1, Where is the emergency?" at the beginning of the call to make sure emergency services are directed to the correct location without delay.
Verifying the correct location involves the dispatcher asking some questions to find out if the location is:
- A commonly known location (“Commonplace”: Store, Church, Facility, School, etc.),
- A residential or business address.
- A major highway and intersection.
This will be followed by verbally verifying which borough or township, in the county, the call is coming from. This is important due to the presence of many duplicate or similar sounding street & location names throughout Bucks County. We take extra steps to ensure that the correct emergency service agency or agencies are dispatched to the scene. This is where we need your help in verifying the location. Your assistance saves time.
Once we have verified your address or location, and depending on the type of call (emergency medical, fire or police) the types of additional questions will vary but at a minimum, the dispatcher will ask:
- Your name
- Your telephone number (verifying our ALI screen)
- Additional questions to aid emergency responders to best handle your situation or emergency.
- Type of emergency (medical , fire, police)
- Description of the injuries,
- Weapons (hazards to responders),
- Physical Descriptions,
- Vehicle Descriptions and license numbers,
- For traffic accidents: extent and damage to vehicles to help determine medical level of care needed (starred windshield, air bags deployed, passenger compartment intrusion, etc.),
- For fleeing persons or vehicles, which direction they went,
- Any other hazards (fire, health, safety),
- Fire exposures to other buildings,
It is important that you remain on the line and answer these questions. Your assistance will help the emergency dispatchers to obtain vital information for responders. You may feel we are taking a long time on the phone with you. In reality it is only seconds or possibly minutes. At the same time emergency dispatchers are entering call information and calls are being dispatched over the radio to emergency responders.
- If you are in any immediate danger to your life, you need to let the emergency dispatcher know this. The dispatcher will then instruct you to get off the line and you will then need to get to a place of safety.
- If you are not in immediate danger and you are still on the telephone with the emergency dispatcher you may be given pre-arrival instruction to assist you, the victim or the emergency responders in preparation prior to their arrival.
- The dispatchers are trained Emergency Medical Dispatchers (EMDs) and will provide emergency medical telephone instructions for situations such as CPR for cardiac arrest, Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) instructions for those having access to an AED during a cardiac arrest situation, etc., to name a couple of examples.
The emergency dispatcher will guide the process of questions and while this is happening the appropriate units will be dispatched (at the same time), to minimize the time getting the information to the emergency responders. Outside of any imminent threat of injury or harm where the caller needs to hang up, the dispatcher will be the one who will guide the call to a close.
You, the caller, are an important part of the team. You become our eyes and ears and then we are able to "paint the picture" for those responding to the scene. This way your emergency services are best prepared before they arrive on scene, providing an additional measure of safety.
Once the call information is placed into our Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) system the Emergency Dispatcher responsible for your area will radio dispatch the appropriate unit(s) to the scene, again, many times while you are still on the phone with another dispatcher. This saves time. From there Emergency Dispatchers will guide unit(s) to the scene and update them with additional information when necessary.
Department of Emergency Communications
Peter D. Ference
Director / 911 Coordinator
Bucks County Department of Emergency Communications / 911 Center
Bucks County Emergency Services Complex
911 Freedom Way
Ivyland, PA 18974