By Officer Larry Jacobs
Crime Prevention Unit, SSPD

Police need to know about suspicious activity or crime in your neighborhood so that we can respond to the problem. Call 911 whenever you see or hear any suspicious activity, feel threatened or feel you are in danger in any away or you need the police to respond.

Calling 911 immediately is one of the most important steps you can take. That way, we can investigate the situation as soon as possible.

Here are a few suggestions about what to do when you call 911:

1. Know why you’re calling 911.

Is a person hurt or in danger? Do you need police, fire or ambulance services? The Sandy Springs 911 center does not have a non-emergency number, so it helps to understand that all calls, emergency or not, are handled by calling 911. Describe the situation. Our operators are well trained and can make the decision if your call requires immediate assistance or if it is a lower priority call.

2. If you do call 911, even by mistake, do not hang up the phone.

Emergency call takers are trained to get the most important information as quickly as possible. In an emergency situation, allow the dispatcher to ask you all the questions they need in order to get help there in the timeliest manner. If you happen to call by accident, stay on the line until you can tell the call taker that you called by accident and there is no emergency. This saves the call taker from having to call you back and confirm there is no emergency or sending police to check your address for an emergency.

3. When you call 911, do your best to stay calm and answer all questions.

Staying calm can be one of the most difficult – yet most important – things you do when calling 911. It is very important that you stay as calm as possible and answer all the questions the dispatcher asks.

4. Help the 911 dispatcher help you.

Listen and answer the questions asked. By doing this, it helps the dispatcher understand your situation and assist you with your emergency until the appropriate police, fire or medical units arrive.

5. Know the location of the emergency.

The wireless 911 caller must be aware that the 911 center that answers the call may not be the one that services the area that the caller is calling from. Look for landmarks, cross street signs and buildings. Know the name of the city or county you are in. Knowing the location is vital to getting the appropriate police, fire or EMS units to respond.

6. Teach your children how to call 911.

Be sure they know what 911 is, how to dial from your home and cell phone, and to trust the dispatcher. Make sure your child is physically able to reach at least one phone in your home. When calling 911, your child needs to know his or her name, parents’ names, telephone number, and, most importantly, his or her address.

7. Prank calls to 911 waste time and are illegal in Georgia.

Be sure all members of your household are aware that prank or harassing calls to 911 will be dealt with by local law enforcement agencies.

8. Post your address clearly, as required by city code.

Posting your address at the driveway entrance and on your home will alleviate any confusion as to whether emergency responders have the correct location. Try using something reflective or illuminated numbers so that it can be seen in the evening as well as during the day. And always report missing street signs when noted- these not only help others find your home but are essential to emergency response personnel.

9. Know the phones you own.

Educate everyone about the phone system in your home as well as your cell phone. Children may need to use the devices in an emergency and will need to know how to operate them.