Who Can Dial 9-1-1?

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Lockers in School

What is Your School’s Policy on Dialing 9-1-1?

When an incident presents itself at a school, it is imperative to get first responders on the scene as quickly as possible. Some school districts have a policy that says only authorized school administrators can dial 9-1-1 for help. Today we are going to discuss some pros to this policy, and explain how the cons may outweigh the positive aspects.

The policy of only authorized personnel having the ability to call 9-1-1 is helpful when reducing the amount of non-emergency calls made to first responders and prank 9-1-1 calls, but there could be significant delays when trying to get help for serious emergencies such as an active shooter, or a medical emergency.

This policy is also helpful in reducing the amount of calls made during an emergency. Take this example, a fire breaks out at the school and multiple teachers, administrators, and students start calling 9-1-1, flooding dispatch centers and causing confusion for dispatchers and first responders. If this policy existed, there would only be one phone call made to dispatch with one person’s assessment of the situation. The caller would also know important information such as the address, where the fire is located in the school, and how many people are inside. Although this is helpful during an emergency, the risk of finding an administrator to make the call and losing precious time does not outweigh the reduced dispatch calls coming in.

9-1-1All adults at the school or district should have the authority and ability to call 9-1-1 if they see the need; this includes teachers, custodians and even cafeteria workers. A teacher may have a medical emergency on the playground, a custodian may notice a suspicious package or a gas leak, and a cafeteria worker may smell a fire in the area. All of these are serious emergencies that require quick action and response from first responders, if an administrator must be found first and approve the call, serious injury or death could occur.

The ability to dial 9-1-1 is a lifeline for many people. When you take away a person’s ability to call 9-1-1, you are removing their ability to ensure life-saving care in the event of an emergency. In the school setting, there are many emergencies and incidents that can occur and escalate quickly. The ability for any adult to make a call to 9-1-1 and get help to the scene, outweighs the pros of only administrators having the capability to approve a call or make a call. What is your school or district’s 9-1-1 policy? Do you think it works well?

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