Community Education - 9-1-1

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9-1-1 is for emergencies only

In Barstow, when you dial "9-1-1" your call is directed to the Communications center of the Barstow Police Department.

Please remember ... dial 9-1-1 only for emergency situations. Emergency calls are those where there is a potential threat to life, such as a serious medical problem (chest pain, seizure, bleeding), any type of fire (business, car, building), or any other life-threatening situation (automobile accidents, fights, person with weapons, etc.). You are also asked to call 9-1-1 to report crimes in progress, whether or not a life is threatened.

Sometimes people dial 9-1-1 when they have a basic question or need to report a non-emergency situation. This misuse of the 9-1-1 system can tie up phone lines that are for emergencies only, and could put lives in danger. Examples of non-emergency incidents include a property damage accident, break-in to a vehicle when suspect is gone, theft of property (when suspect is gone), vandalism (when suspect is gone), panhandlers, intoxicated persons who are not disorderly, or cars blocking the street or alleys. In these types of non-life threatening situations, or for general Fire Department questions, you should call the Police or Fire non-emergency phone numbers below:

Police Non-Emergency Phone Number:  (760) 256-2211

Barstow Fire Non-Emergency Phone Number:  (760) 256-2254 

What to do when you call 9-1-1:

In Barstow, 9-1-1 calls are answered by the Communications center of the Barstow Police Department. It is important to let us know at the beginning of the conversation what type of assistance that you need. Briefly describe the type of incident you are reporting. For example, "I'm reporting an auto fire," or "I'm reporting an unconscious person," or "I'm reporting a car accident.“

The Barstow Fire dispatcher will also ask you questions. They have been trained to ask questions that will help prioritize the incident, locate it and speed an appropriate response. Your answers should be brief and responsive. Remain calm and speak clearly. Be patient. While you are answering the dispatcher's questions, he/she is entering or writing down the information. If you are reporting an emergency, most likely a response is being made while you are still on the line with the dispatcher.

Be prepared to describe your location and the location of the emergency so public safety units can respond. Be aware of your current city or town, address, highway and direction, nearby cross-streets or interchanges, or other geographic points of reference. Be prepared to describe if you are inside or outside, in what room or on what floor, etc.

Be prepared to describe the condition of any persons involved in any incident.

If you are able and have training, apply first aid to any patients who need it.

Give the victim reassurance that help is on the way.

Listen to the dispatcher's instructions for assistance if you are in danger yourself. The dispatcher may tell you to leave the building, secure yourself in a room or take other action to protect yourself.

Follow any instructions the dispatcher gives you, such as meeting the first responders at the door, or flagging down the firefighters at the curb.

Secure any dogs or other pets that may interfere with the emergency response.

Gather any medications the patient is taking and which the medical crew will need to take with the patient.

Do not hang up until the dispatcher tells you to. In some cases, the dispatcher will keep you on the line while the emergency units are responding to ask additional questions or to obtain on-going information.

Other 9-1-1 and Emergency Communication Tips:

Your 9-1-1 call will be answered by a dispatcher if one is available. However, during some emergencies of peak call periods all of the call-takers may be busy on other calls. If that occurs, the 9-1-1 call is answered by a call distributor that holds the call, and then automatically routes it to the first available call-taker. Do not hang up if you reach a recording, and try to call back. Stay on the line and your call will be answered in order. If you hang up, your call will be delayed because you will be placed at the end of other callers.

If you or a family member dialed 9-1-1 in error, do not hang up the telephone. Even if you hang up prior to us answering the phone, the call will go through and register as a 9-1-1 call. Instead, stay on the line and explain to the dispatcher that you dialed by mistake and that you do not have an emergency. If you hang up, a dispatcher will call back to confirm that there is no emergency. If you don't answer, a police officer or deputy must be dispatched to confirm that you are OK. This will needlessly take resources away from genuine emergencies.

Do not program 9-1-1 into your auto-dial telephone. You won't forget the number, and programming the number invites accidental dialing of the number.

Do not dial 9-1-1 to "test" your phone or the system. This needlessly burdens the dispatchers and system with non-emergency calls.

If the community is affected by a natural disaster, pre-plan a method of communicating with family, friends and relatives before an incident occurs. Choose any emergency contact outside the area that will be affected by the disaster. Make them the relay point for those who want to contact you. After the disaster hits, you can make just one telephone call to your contact, and have that information relayed to all those you care about.

In a disaster of emergency situation, the phone lines may be overburdened. Do not pick up the telephone and if you don't hear a dial-tone put it down or you'll tie up the telephone network and delay obtaining a line. Stay on the line until you hear the dial-tone. If you hear a fast-busy, all circuits are busy and you can try again later. If you reach a recording, the telephone system isn't available for your call, so try again later.