Emergency communications, including the 911 Center, is part of the key functions of the Erie County Department of Public Safety. Other Public Safety services include Emergency Management and Haz-Mat.
Erie County’s 911 Center is an emergency communications and dispatch agency serving law enforcement, fire and EMS agencies. The Erie County 911 Center processed more than 130,000 calls for service in the past year.
Calls made to the 911 Center are processed by highly trained professional 911 call takers and dispatchers. All Erie County Department of Public Safety 911 telecommunications personnel are recognized as call takers by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA), and obtain 560 hours of training before being assigned as a call taker. This education is obtained through a combination of classroom and on-the-job training. Additionally, all telecommunications staff members are certified in the use of the International Academy of Emergency Medical Dispatch, International Academy of Police Dispatch and the International Academy of Emergency Fire Dispatch protocol systems. The same staff members answering 911 calls also answer calls to the non-emergency dispatch number as well as calls reporting burglar, fire, medical and carbon monoxide alarm activations.
What should I do when I call 911?
Every second counts during an emergency. It is vital to understand the information that needs to be provided to the 911 call taker to get help quickly during a fire, medical emergency, or a crime.
When you call 911, you will be asked to provide your location (including city, borough, or township), your name, your phone number and a description of the incident. Be prepared to provide details of the emergency situation. The 911 call taker is trained to ask the necessary questions to obtain the details of the emergency. Be patient, remain calm and speak clearly while the call taker asks you questions.
Listen closely and follow all directions provided by the call taker. The 9-1-1 call taker has been trained to provide lifesaving instructions while you are on the phone, prior to the arrival of responders.
When call volume into the 911 Center is extremely high and the number of calls exceeds the number of 911 call takers to answer the phones, you may reach a recording. If you dial 911 and reach a recording, do not hang up. Stay on the line and your call will be answered.
If you hang up before talking to the 911 call taker, the call will still be delivered to a call taker in the 911 Center. When a 911 call taker is presented with a hang-up call, the call taker is required to call back and confirm that there is no emergency at your location.
Erie County’s 911 Center answers 911 calls for one municipal police department, Millcreek Township Police, that dispatches their own police units. When 911 calls are received requiring police response within this area, the call taker will transfer the call to the that police dispatch center. Calls requiring the Pennsylvania State Police will be transferred to the appropriate barracks for dispatch.
Please be patient during these transfer processes, and be prepared to repeat information about your location, telephone number and a description of the emergency situation.
What happens after I call 911?
When a 911 call is received at the Erie County 911 Center, the 911 call taker will begin by asking for the address of the emergency. Address information is essential to ensure help is sent as quickly as possible should the call become disconnected or the caller is unable to continue speaking.
The caller will be asked to confirm that the address is in Erie County to verify the accuracy of the information provided by the telephone service provider. This questioning includes asking the caller the name of the city, borough or township in which the emergency is occurring. The 911 call taker will also verify your phone number, by asking you to repeat it. This ensures the proper phone number is recorded so we have a method of re-contacting you, should your call be disconnected. Call takers will ask the nature of and details of the emergency situation. As soon as the 911 call taker has determined the location and type of emergency, the initial information is entered into the Computer Aided Dispatch system. This information is instantly sent to the dispatcher’s computer workstation, so the dispatcher can send the appropriate help.
The 911 call taker will keep asking questions to gather information about the situation and will pass the information along to the dispatcher. While the caller is talking to the 911 call taker, the dispatcher will review the incoming information and update the emergency personnel on the way to the scene.
The 911 call taker asks questions that are designed to produce a safe, appropriate public safety response in the least amount of time possible. At no time do these questions cause a delay in the response, nor does it cause a delay in obtaining critical information.
Remember, the call taker’s questions are important to get the right kind of help to you quickly. Do not hang up until the call taker instructs you to do so.
How is my call dispatched?
When an emergency occurs and public safety assistance is required, the trained staff working in the Erie County 9-1-1 Center will ensure the timely and accurate dispatch of Police, Fire, or EMS personnel to the scene of the emergency.
Dispatchers at the 911 Center receive information from a caller from 911 call takers and then processes the information to dispatch the appropriate emergency responders, whether police, fire or EMS. Dispatchers communicate with police, fire and EMS field units via radio and ensure coordinated efforts in response to an emergency.
The time it takes for a first responder to arrive on the scene of an incident after the call is answered in the Erie County 911 Center depends on several factors, including weather conditions, distance from the incident, and how busy the responding agency is at the time.
Calls needing response by police or law enforcement are prioritized based upon incident type and whether or not the incident is still in progress. As a result, there may be a delay in response while units respond to higher priority, in-progress calls or until a unit becomes available in the area.
What about non-emergency calls?
You should only call 911 to report an emergency situation.
If you need to request the dispatch of first responders to a non-emergency situation, dial the non-emergency dispatch telephone number for your area. Non-emergency situations include reporting a crime that happened in the past or that has no suspect; to report loud music or a loud party; or reporting cars blocking the street or your driveway.
When used properly, calling the non-emergency dispatch number allows emergency 911 calls to be processed quickly while allowing the 911 Center to efficiently process non-emergency, non-urgent situations that require the dispatch of law enforcement.
The same people answering calls to the non-emergency dispatch number are also responsible for answering 9-1-1 calls. As a result, there may be a delay in answering calls on the non-emergency dispatch number. Please be patient if there is a delay.