by John Wolfinger, Safety chair
I continually get questions relating to our 911 system is some form or fashion. I hope I can clear up some things you may have been wondering about.
The most important myth to dispel is that, since we do not have a 311 call system for non-emergency situations – our 911 call system is the only way to reach APD and AFR for assistance. You are not going to “bother” the operators with non-emergency situations. The first person to answer will ascertain whether you need AFR for a fire or medical reason and will transfer your call to the AFR operators in the 911 center if appropriate. A medical call goes to the nearest AFR station and to the Grady ambulance center. The reason both are notified is that an AFR station may be much closer to your call site than a Grady truck at that moment. Also, AFR trucks do not have drugs or medications that may be needed and they do not transport to hospitals. Thus the reasoning for both units being initially summoned.
All other calls then go to APD for resolution. After the operator gets all the pertinent info, it is passed on to the dispatcher fore the appropriate APD Zone. The dispatcher then rates the assistance call for timing of response. Naturally a crime in process or a life-threatening situation will take precedence over a car blocking your driveway. The dispatcher stays in contact with all field personnel in their Zone and knows the closest available person for a response.
Even though there now seems to be very few times when the 911 system rings busy (as compared to a few years ago) stay on the line for your call to be answered. Hanging up and redialing means that you go to the end of the queue. A rainy, stormy Friday afternoon at rush hour with lots of auto accidents is a time when you may get a busy signal. Even though I don’t think that the 911 call center is still fully staffed, there are now enough trained personnel to properly handle calls on a consistent basis.
The next issue is when to call. Whenever you find yourself wondering as to whether you should report a situation – the answer is yes. Your gut feeling has told you that something is not right, so go with a call. If you see someone acting suspiciously or that looks like they may need help, call and let APD handle it. The least that will happen is that an officer will have a conversation with that individual. This cannot hurt anyone and it helps the officer to get to know their assigned beat better. This is how crime prevention works and APD would always rather try to prevent a crime than try to catch a perp after the fact.
The amount of calls from an area also has a second purpose, in that they help the Zone Commander know where to concentrate personnel to combat problems. Unreported incidents not only allow the suspected person to get away – but also rob that area of added personnel.
If you sense that you are not getting across to the operator the seriousness of your call – do not hesitate to ask for a supervisor. You had a distinct reason for making a 911 call, so make sure it is followed up on.
For a complete listing of all APD phone numbers other than 911 –go to http://www.atlantapd.org/phonedirectory.aspx and also check out http://www.atlantapd.org/FAQS.aspx Take a look at these pages now, so that when you have a question you will know where to find the info you need.
If you have additional questions – please contact me at email@example.com to give me material for additional articles about this general subject. I want our neighborhood to be well-informed for the safety of all of us.