911 Central Emergency Reporting Bureau (CERB)
The first step in the 911 system is activation. The activation takes place when 911 is dialed by the individual in need of assistance.
Upon activation the call for help is routed to the Primary CERB (Central Emergency Reporting Bureau), for that area. The call taker, then answers with a statement such as "911, what is your emergency?"
Once the Primary CERB call taker has determined that you need Police, Fire and/or Ambulance, they will conference-in the appropriate agency, referred to as a Secondary CERB.
In the Enhanced 911 System implemented in Lanark County, the moment the 9-1-1 line is answered by the call taker the address, phone number, and the name of the residence is displayed on two different screens. One of these screens is the ALI, or Automatic Location Identification, screen. (This will only apply when the call is placed on a "land line" as the information is not available from cellular phones.)
The ALI screen displays everything from the phone number and the address of the caller, to the phone company the residence uses. "This comes particularly useful in situations where the caller is not able to speak." The second screen is the ANI, or Automatic Number screen. This screen displays the phone number of the caller.
After connection is made to the caller, the call taker then obtains the necessary information needed to dispatch the appropriate agencies, whether it be the Fire Department, Rescue, Police, Ambulance (or EMS) or some other service. When the critical information is obtained the 9-1-1 CERB call taker directs the call to the appropriate agency(s) to render assistance.
Unfortunately, a large amount of calls taken into a CERB are 9-1-1 Hang-ups. This is when 9-1-1 is dialed and then the call is terminated on the caller's end before the call taker answers the phone. Although the caller hangs up the information is still displayed on the ANI / ALI screen. This may happen due to a phone malfunction, a small child playing with a phone, a teenager that thinks it's a funny prank or it could be the 70 year old that just had a heart attack and all that could be done was dial 9-1-1.
The biggest problem with hang-ups is that the call taker usually has no idea what is going on. Granted, the majority of these are not emergencies, but there is always that chance it could be a life threatening emergency.
When a hang-up is received it is up to the call taker to re-establish contact with the caller if at all possible. Using a special 911 feature, the call taker may be able to re-contact the caller directly if he/she has not released the call from their answering position. If contact is not made and the dispatcher cannot verify that an emergency situation exists, the police, and possibly other emergency services, will be dispatched to that address.
Many individuals look at the 9-1-1 system as their personal directory. They might call 9-1-1 and ask them the number to Joe Shmoe's Pizza Place. Please do not do this. Firstly, 9-1-1 is for emergencies, to report crimes being committed or people in distress. Secondly, that 9-1-1 line is being tied up and preventing the person really in need from getting through. In certain instances fines may be levied and/or criminal charges may be laid.
Some people like to make prank phone calls. Some of them might get enjoyment out of calling 9-1-1, hanging up, and then watching all of the emergency service apparatus roll in, prepared for the worse. Not only does this tie up a number of personnel and apparatus, it costs the agencies money, time, and it makes them work that much harder on something they shouldn’t have to. These individuals work hard to serve the public and they do not need to be abused like that.
9-1-1 is to be called when a crime is being committed, a life is threatened or in danger or a fire is out of control.
What to tell the 9-1-1 Operator:
- Phone number and address from where you are calling – the 911 system will display this information to the call taker but he/she will always ask you to confirm it.
- What happened?
- Where it happened (address if not from where you are calling)
- Is anyone injured?
Stay on the line, if it is safe for you to do so, while the call taker notifies the Emergency Service, additional details may be required.
APCO Canada (The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials, Canada, Inc.)
NENA (National Emergency Number Association)