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In 2019 the Riley County Police Department Dispatch Center upgraded its infrastructure to Next Generation 911 which features text-to-911 as part of its enhanced capabilities.
"This provides emergency Dispatchers a method to better serve our citizens as text-to-911 service becomes available for members of the deaf, hard of hearing, speech impaired, and nonverbal aphonic communities within Riley County,” Communications Center Manager Tyler Siefkes said.
Citizens should always call 911 when possible. Text-to-911 is a secondary option for situations where speaking would put you in more danger such as some domestic disputes and home invasions.
“The text option should be utilized by those experiencing an emergency situation where speaking may put you in harm’s way.” Siefkes said. “We encourage the public to call 911 if you can, and text if you can’t.”
To send a text to 911, use the message icon on your cell phone and put 911 in the number field (do not enter with dashes). In the message, include the location of the emergency you are reporting and whether you need police, fire, and/or medical assistance. Once you have initiated a text-to-911 conversation, do not delete the message or turn off your phone until the dispatcher tells you it is ok.
Text-to-911 accepts written words, not pictures, emojis, or video at this time. A text or data plan with a major wireless provider is required to use this service.
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When you first call for emergency help, take a deep breath, listen, and wait until you hear “Riley County 911” before you start speaking.
There are several important details you should try to relay to dispatch if at all possible:
The dispatcher you are speaking to will begin to ask you a specific set of questions. In the heat of the moment, it may seem like the questions are not important, or irrelevant to the situation, but the questions are critical. Dispatchers will work as a team to pass the information you provide along to other first responders and get help to you as quickly as possible. Training and experience help dispatchers know the important information to gather to ensure the appropriate first responders show up on scene.
Your responses to the questions help police, firefighters, and EMTs have a plan of action as they are en route to your location so they can better respond when they arrive with the correct equipment available.
If law enforcement is needed dispatchers may ask:
If firefighters or medical help is needed:
Dispatchers will gather information to provide EMTs and Firefighters to appropriately determine what equipment is necessary and a potential treatment plan for time-sensitive situations. In medical situations, dispatchers will ask for the gender and age of the person involved and some medical history if available. At this point, it’s not necessary to tell dispatchers how you know the person needing assistance, how you’re related, etc.
By answering dispatchers' strategic questions instead of just relaying vague information it will prevent the need to repeat, and aid in getting help to you as quickly as possible. This also helps to decrease the likelihood that important details will be missed.
Remember — when you’re involved in an emergency it can feel like time stops. Please be patient as the dispatchers are working quickly behind the scenes to coordinate with potentially life-saving services.
While you’re on the phone, other dispatch team members are doing background work of notifying the appropriate agencies to respond, relaying critical information, and gathering additional information.
Extensive training helps dispatchers make split-second decisions. They will determine who to send while also taking into account the area, responders on call, standard operating procedures, and much more. They will determine if police, fire, or EMS need to respond emergent — using lights and sirens. Dispatchers will decide which agencies need to be notified beyond first responders to include basic utility companies, local government crews, state agencies, animal control, the coroner, and many others.
If there are safety concerns, dispatchers will coordinate with law enforcement to provide a secure environment for whatever emergency aid needs to be performed.
Dispatchers are the first contact you have with first responders. Our highly trained team of professionals are here to serve you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
What is an emergency? It may seem like an easy question to answer, but an emergency to one person, may not be urgent for the next. Life experiences, knowledge, and individual circumstances among other things may lead people to differ on their opinion of a true emergency.
If you call 911 for a non-emergent matter, our highly trained team of dispatchers will politely ask you to call back on our administrative line so the emergency line is free for critical use.
Some questions you may ask yourself to determine if there is an emergency:
If you answer yes to any of these questions, please call 911.
Why not just call 911 no matter what instead of utilizing administrative numbers? Calls to 911 for any other purpose than reporting an emergency could reduce the number of 911 call takers and phone lines available to those needing immediate help. It's important to save 911 for those who may require life-saving assistance. If you are ever in doubt if what is going on is an emergency, call 911 and our dispatchers will help talk you through the proper steps to take.
To contact us in case of emergency: Call 911
To contact us for any other police or law enforcement matters: Call our administrative line (785) 537-2112
We are here to help you around the clock through our emergent and non-emergent line.
Oops! You accidentally called 911.
Don't stress! And don't hang up!
If you accidentally call 911, please stay on the line and speak to a dispatcher. Even if we haven't answered when you hang up, our efficient computers and programs register the call. For safety reasons, we need to verify if there is an actual emergency. If you hang up, we will try to establish contact with you based on the information our system obtained from the call. If you call from a cell phone, it will most likely tell us the number you called from and the last cell phone tower you were near, giving us an approximate address. If you accidentally call from a landline, it will most likely give us a more exact address. We will attempt to call you back, but if we are unable to establish contact, first responders may be dispatched to your location to determine if there is an emergency.
If you stay on the line and explain the situation, the process will be short and simple. Dispatchers may politely provide guidance on ways to prevent accidental 911 calls in the future.