What is a Dispatcher?

The 911 dispatcher is often the unsung professional of the emergency response team. These professionals, who gather essential information from callers and dispatch the appropriate first responders to the scene, must be able to take control of situations that may be chaotic, heart-wrenching, stressful, confusing and frenzied.

They must be organized, adept at multi-tasking, level-headed and trustworthy. Their work within emergency response services often places them in the middle of life or death situations, so requirements and training for these positions are often stringent, rigorous and unwavering.

About our Dispatch Team

The Cumberland County Emergency Communications District has 18 full-time dispatch positions when fully-staffed. These are positions are broken down among Day, Mid and Night Shifts. Our staff work 12 hour days.

When should you call 9-1-1?

An emergency is when immediate police, fire department, or medical assistance is necessary to protect life or property.

If an emergency situation arises - a crime, a fire, a serious injury or illness - ask yourself whether police, fire department or medical assistance is needed right now to protect life or property. If the answer is YES, then immediately dial 911 and advise the 911 operator of what has happened or is happening. If you are not sure if it's a real emergency, dial 911 and the 911 operator will make the final determination.

If the 911 system receives several calls at the same time, emergency services handle these multiple calls on a priority basis. The most serious emergency will be handled first.

No money is needed for calling 911 from a pay phone. If there is an emergency, you can just pick up a pay phone, wait for the dial tone, and dial 911 without depositing a coin. You can also dial 911 from a deactivated cell phone as long as the phone has power.

Please be advised that if you call 911 from a cell phone that has been deactivated from a service provider, the 911 operator may not be able to determine your location as if you had called with a cell phone with active service or a landline. Please try to convey your location immediately when calling 911 at any time, but especially from any active or deactivated cell phone

Why Do Dispatchers Ask…

What is the location of your emergency?

  • We need to know where you are so we can get the proper help to you as quickly as possible!

  • It is a common misconception that calling 911 instantly gives a dispatcher your location.

What is your name and phone number?

  • We need to know who we are talking to.

  • We need to know how to reach you if the call gets disconnected.

What is happening?

  • We need to know what is going on…Why you called 911.

  • This helps us determine what sort of help you need…Fire, Law, EMS, etc.

Important Things to Remember when calling 9-1-1:

Stay Calm. Give your location and nature of the emergency.

  • Listen carefully to the 911 operator and their questions and instructions.

  • Answer the 911 operator's questions as accurately as possible. Speak clearly and calmly.

  • Do exactly as the 911 operator tells you during the course of the call.

  • Never hang up on the 911 operator until you are told to do so.

  • Sometimes it seems like a 911 operator is asking irrelevant questions or taking too much time. 911 operators need certain questions answered. Be aware that there are several 911 operators in the Center and each one assists the others when they may be idle. So even if it seems like a 911 operator is taking valuable minutes away from an emergency response by asking questions, usually the other 911 operators have already initiated the responders (Police/Fire/EMS) by phone and/or radio and help is on the way.

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