My evening in Alexandria’s 911 Call Center

I want to better understand my community, so I’ve been taking part in the Alexandria Community Police Academy. It’s a ten-week program dedicated to providing citizens with a greater understanding of their police.

Tonight, I sat in on a shift at the 911 call center. I got to listen in on calls and learn how the operator/dispatchers went about their mission.

I found one call breathtaking. A single woman called 911 utterly terrified that her house alarm had tripped and that an intruder was in her home. The 911 operator worked to keep the woman calm and focused as she dispatched police to the woman’s home. When the woman’s sister called the woman on another line with talk of last goodbyes (making the woman even more hysterical), the 911 operator had the woman end her call with her sister so the woman could say on point.

As police entered the house to clear it, the 911 operator explained to the woman where they were in the house and where they were going next. Eventually, the police made it to the room the woman had barricaded herself—uncovering no evidence of an actual intrusion.

Thankfully, this call was a false alarm. But as I listened in on the call, I couldn’t help but wonder. Am I possibly listening to someone in their last panicked moments? What of the police who had to enter the house and clear it in the face of a possible threat? Yet as far as I could see, everyone did their job and did so professionally and without shirking.

When it was all said and done, the 911 operator I sat in quickly with brushed herself off and went on to the next call. A fascinating evening to say the least.

PS: Here’s a free service that you might not know about. It’s called Smart 911. It allows you to provide information that you want responders to have should you ever need to call 911. For example, you could upload medical information, floor plans, gate codes, or whatever you think first responders might need if you had to call for help.

I think Smart 911 is a great way to take a little of the pressure off should you ever need help in an emergency.  Recommended—check it out!

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