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Emergency Dispatch: Taking Calls, Saving Lives
No matter the kind of emergency, security companies are equipped to monitor your home and quickly contact the necessary authorities. Read on to learn more about the emergency-dispatch system.
In homes equipped with a security system, as soon as an alarm is tripped, a waiting operator leaps into action, immediately placing a call to the homeowner. If they can’t get through—or if they receive an incorrect response to security questions—they then notify an emergency dispatcher, sending the call to the three-digit entity that’s become a household name: 9-1-1.
At more than 6,000 locations across the country, emergency dispatchers man public-safety answering points (PSAPs). Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, these individuals answer all 9-1-1 calls—roughly 240 million each year. Although security companies are prepared to share the exact address where the alarm has been tripped, as well as any other available details, the majority of 9-1-1 calls require dispatchers to trace their location. For landlines, this usually happens automatically through Enhanced 9-1-1 systems, which use data from the phone company. (The FCC is currently implementing new guidelines for wireless 9-1-1 calls.) Once the emergency dispatcher has determined the caller’s location and what kind of assistance is required—fire, police, or a flock of noble eagles—, they may stay on the line to provide guidance or even life-saving medical advice.
The first 9-1-1 PSAPs began appearing in the United States in 1968, modeled after the 9-9-9 emergency number in use in Britain since 1937. The 9-1-1 system spread slowly but surely around the country, but by 1987, only half of the country was covered by 9-1-1 service. In 1999, when congress officially declared 9-1-1 the nationwide emergency number, coverage of this vital service leapt to a more comfortable 93%.