North County Dispatch Joint Powers Authority (North Comm) answers approximately 200 emergency calls per day.
That many calls can lead to a lot of questions:
Citizens should call 911 for any emergency related matter even if it does not appear to be life-threatening. It is recommended you call 911 and speak to a dispatcher even if you’re not sure if the situation is a true emergency. We are here to help you! Remember, it is advised that you do not call 911 if others around you have already called and spoken with a dispatcher. When multiple calls for the same emergency come in, it backs up the system and can delay the response for other emergencies.
When you call on a landline phone or a cellular phone, the call is answered by the primary PSAP or Public Safety Answering Point. After the caller has stated the nature of the emergency or the reason for dialing 911, the primary PSAP will then transfer the call over to the appropriate agency for Police, Fire or Medical.
If you call 911 from a landline phone, the registered address and phone number is automatically shown on our screen. However, it is still necessary for the dispatcher to verify the address because sometimes the phone company’s database has not been updated to the correct address or sometimes an individual calls 911 for an emergency occurring at a different location.
If you call 911 from a cellular phone, it does not show your exact location on the computer screen but shows the general vicinity of where you are calling from via GPS or triangulation.
When you call 911 and it is answered by the primary PSAP, they need the location of the emergency and the number you are calling from. After the nature of the emergency is established, you will be transferred to the appropriate agency. Upon transfer, you will need to repeat your information to be sure the agency receiving the transfer has the correct location. The information that needs to be verified is: the address of the emergency, phone number, and type of emergency. It may seem frustrating to repeat the same information; however it is crucial to have the correct information so that emergency personnel can be sent quickly to the location of the emergency.
If you’re not sure of your location and you are using a cellular phone, try to provide cross streets or a landmark location such as a park, school, store name, restaurant name, etc. If you are able to, call from a landline phone during an emergency.
After the dispatcher has verified the location of the emergency, phone number, and type of emergency, they will send an emergency response. Then, they may ask some additional questions to update responding units via the on-board Mobile Data Computer (MDC) so they are better prepared to assist you when they arrive on scene. All instructions given to you by the dispatcher are to help you or the patient before the fire engine and/or paramedics arrive on scene.
The first and most important reason you should never do this is because the Firefighters and Paramedics may be away tending to a different emergency. Second, by personally transporting your emergency of any kind, you increase the chances of causing a separate emergency.
The fire engine is usually staffed with two firefighters and a firefighter/paramedic. Therefore, if the call is not fire related but medical in nature, the fire engine is still able to assist. Also, all medical aid calls receive an engine and a medic unit to ensure that the patient receives help as soon as possible.
The sirens are primarily for public safety and awareness of an emergency vehicle approaching. Additionally, it is state law that all vehicles yield to emergency vehicles that are operating with their emergency lights and sirens. When you hear the emergency sirens, safely pull over to the right side of the road. Remember, the lights and sirens are for your safety and for the emergency personnel’s safety as well.
The fire engine is able to assist on all emergency and non-emergency related calls. The apparatus itself has many tools that can assist in different emergency and non-emergency situations. Moreover, the fire engine might be dispatched on an emergency call after they finish with yours; if they had to drive back to the station to get their “tool box”, it would take them longer to arrive at the scene of their next emergency.
There is no charge for calling 911, and usually no charge for emergency response. Charges are typically incurred when and if you choose to be transported to the hospital by the ambulance.