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November 30, 2011

The Proper Approach to 911 Services

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

The men and women responsible for 911 services could likely do a better job of responding were they not overloaded with information regarding an emergency. Perhaps more importantly, if the information is erroneous, the crucial moments between accident and first response gets dangerously elongated.

By some estimates, according to this Avaya (News - Alert) blog, approximately 70 percent of business owners are likely not aware whether or not their 911 routing codes, should they make an emergency call for 911 services, are correct. An incorrect routing code, which acts as a caller ID for many 911 services operators, will route emergency help to the wrong location.

Undertaking policy changes and rezoning large structures into appropriately sized reporting areas could be an easy fix in this problem. Educating workers in how to report their location to 911 services would also ease the burden on first responders. For example, a first responder is better informed knowing which floor and what side of the building (north, south, east or west) you are on, rather than the number of your office or cubicle.

This process of educating people in the workplace and protecting them might be referred to as 911 services remediation. By minimizing the probability of risk, remediation can help stop a problem before it exists.

The role of social media, while doing a great job of bringing poor service to light and helping to correct problems, can also do a hefty amount of damage when 911 services are not delivered consistently. Take for instance a stranded motorist who waits and waits for the help that he/she has called for. They log onto their Facebook or Twitter (News - Alert) account, of which they might have thousands of followers, and let loose their frustrations. Like a bullet, the negative message is unleashed and can’t be brought back, even after the situation has been resolved and corrected.

Last month in Florida, a 911 services call came from a bank employee at a location that wasn’t responded to as a result of incorrect routing. The call was routed to an adjacent county due to an error in the calling line ID code. Blame was first placed on the 911 services operator who had actually done everything by the book.

The carrier, who did not properly honor the caller ID sent by a multi-line telephone system, causes situations like these. Public safety answering points are based on caller ID, and when sent erroneously, can often lead to routing emergency 911 services responders to the wrong location. Proper system deployment, education and routing rules can help eliminate these problems and protect lives in the process.

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

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