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Online
•“911: What’s Your Emergency?” is available at www.wfwa.org/vft.html or www.cityoffortwayne.org/911-home.html
Tips
When kids should call 911
•If there’s a threat of harm to your personal safety or the safety of others.
•When a criminal act is in progress or just occurred.
•A situation that escalates from a non-emergency to an emergency. What they should tell dispatchers
•Their name, address and telephone number.
•The location of the incident including a house or apartment number, street, business or landmarks.
•What happened, who is involved and how many people are involved.
•If anyone is hurt and in need of an ambulance.
•Whether there are weapons involved and what kind.
Stay on the phone until the dispatcher tells the child to hang up.
Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Kindergartners in Melissa Murphy’s class at Forest Park Elementary watch a video produced by PBS about when to call 911.

Educate kids on appropriate 911 etiquette

When it comes to 911 hang-up calls, children are some of biggest culprits, said the county’s 911 call center director.

Tim Lee, executive director of the Consolidated Communications Partnership, said teaching children when and why to call 911 is one of the best ways to reduce the number of unnecessary calls.

Sometimes the dropped call is as innocent as a child carrying a cellphone in his or her backpack that gets bumped on the bus or a parent allowing a child to play with an old phone – not realizing that it can still make emergency calls, Lee said.

“The most important thing is to teach kids not to hang up if they accidentally call police,” he said.

To help curb the number of these calls, 911 officials and local dispatchers decided to create a video to share with elementary-age students at local schools.

Last month, PBS 39 launched a video field trip to be shared with all private, public and parochial schools in Allen County, said Cathy Edwards of WFWA PBS39.

The film, called “911: What’s Your Emergency?” is designed to educate children about when and why to call 911, Lee said.

The 25-minute video includes interviews with local police, firefighters and emergency personnel.

“In the past, the education piece has been sparse,” Lee said. “It’s been in the schools, but not like this.”

If children are educated about what happens when they dial the numbers 911, they won’t be curious to “test” the system and flood dispatchers with non-emergency calls, he said.

Throughout the video, police officers, firefighters and dispatchers from Allen County discuss when to call 911, what a call sounds like, what details children need to provide the dispatcher and other information that can help children better understand emergency calls.

jcrothers@jg.net

Sources: Fort Wayne Police Department, Allen County Combined Communications Partnership

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