When you are scared or hurting, some of the simplest tasks and questions seem impossible to manage. That’s why it is important to know what to expect when you call 9-1-1 in an emergency. Since many of us are glued to our cell phones and don’t even have landline phones at home anymore, we want to take a minute to share with you what you can expect when you dial 9-1-1 from a cell phone in the Cleveland area.
Primarily, cellular calls are answered first by CECOMS (Cuyahoga Emergency Communications System). When you call, the CECOMS operator will ask, “What city do you need?” and then immediately transfer you to the correct 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Center in our area. That CECOMS operator will stay on the call with you until they ensure that you are connected to the right place.
If you answer, “Cleveland,” you will be connected to the City of Cleveland Communications Center which is a part of the Cleveland Department of Public Safety. It includes uniformed and civilian staff from the Divisions of Police, Fire and Emergency Medical Services who are trained and ready to help you. Once transferred, your call will be picked up by a Cleveland Division of Police Calltaker who will begin by asking what your emergency is and whether you need Police, Fire or Medical assistance. It can be tough sometimes. You may not know what you need or you may need more than one service. The important thing is to remain calm, listen to the Calltaker, and follow their instructions. It can be hard to keep from blurting out exactly what is happening but there are some key questions that need to be answered first and will keep you from having to tell your story more than once. The Police Calltaker may need to transfer you one more time to get you the specific help that you need, particularly if it is a fire or a medical emergency. Don’t fret though. They’re busy getting you help even while they’re asking questions and gathering information from you. AND, they can relay that information to emergency responders even when they are already on the way to you!
Since you’re calling from your cell, there are a couple tips that can assist you in getting help faster. First, if you are driving and can safely pull over, do it. That will keep your call from getting lost and limit how many things you are concentrating on at once! Also, make sure to give the Calltaker a call-back number just in case you do get cut off. And remember, although technology has come a long way, it is not always possible to quickly and directly pinpoint your location when you are on a cell phone, so be sure to give as much information as possible about where the emergency is.