To leave a message or not? wireless 911 calls

Discussion of policies and procedures related to calltaking and radio dispatching.

To leave a message or not? wireless 911 calls

Postby lucy7106 » Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:34 pm

We are working on implementing some policies and I have come across a debate. I am hoping some of you can lend some insight. When you call a wireless 911 hang up back, do you leave a message if you get voicemail? Why or why not? I am in the habit of leaving a message that says "this is 911 we received a call from your cell phone if you have an emergency please call back on 911 if you have no emergency but you need police or fire asstiance please call us at (insert our non emergency line)". I was looking at the NENA guidelines and they are suggesting not to leave any message. I am just wondering the school of thought on either side of it. Thanks everyone!
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Re: To leave a message or not? wireless 911 calls

Postby MrJim911 » Tue Feb 07, 2012 7:56 am

To me it's a complete waste of time to leave a message. Either they did it by mistake, or they need me and they will call back. Leaving a message accomplishes nothing. Our Directive is based on the NENA standard.
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Re: To leave a message or not? wireless 911 calls

Postby Redcard » Tue Feb 07, 2012 2:40 pm

I think the issue with not leaving a message was something from the "good o'le days" when we had land line telephones and answering machines which those in the house could hear the message as it was being left on the answering machine. The 911 dispatcher didn't want to tip off a criminal in the house that help was being dispatched if the resident was being held captive. One of things that you seen on movies a lot, and happened not as often in real life. I have been in the digital voice mail age for many years, so I am not sure if there are still machines out there which allow the message to be played as it is being left.

In my previous stint as a supervisor at a PSAP, it was mixed. Most would not leave messages with the same thought as Jim, If they need help, they would have picked up the phone or called back by now. Some would leave a message on cell phones saying that a 911 call was received from the phone and if help is needed to call back. If help is not needed, then reminding the person to lock the keypad to prevent further calls. It was an issue we had informal discussions on in the room through the years. I don't think anyone left a message on landline phones.

Getting back onto the subject, I would say yes, leave a message on wireless calls as it is a way to educate the public about the use of 911. If you do not leave a message, the public may not know that their phone called 911. When you call back, the public may not recognize the phone number you are leaving on caller ID, or some of your agencies may not leave a number. So when the citizen sees your number or "Unknown" they may think it is a sales call and not answer it. Educating the public about the use of 911 and being aware of their phone may be calling into the center inadvertantly may cause them to be more cognizant of the situation and preventing misdials in the future. I know, this may be wishful thinking for some, but if we can prevent one misdial to 911...
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Re: To leave a message or not? wireless 911 calls

Postby jbaross » Thu Feb 09, 2012 12:28 pm

How much time does it take to call back and leave a voice message? If I was to leave a message for every cell hang up I recieved I'd be on the phone calling people back for half my shift. At my center we don't have the time to leave them a message, granted we do call them back and hopefully they pick up and we can see what they need. But I'd think it's just time consuming to leave a message, then you'd get those people that don't listen to there voice mail and just hear 911 and think there was an emergency with a loved one or something and then call back and whom ever answers would have no clue what they are talking about, unless they got you back on there call back.

Just my 2 cents.

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Re: To leave a message or not? wireless 911 calls

Postby lucy7106 » Sat Feb 11, 2012 2:43 pm

All very good points. Thank you guys. I do agree it takes time but its really only 30 seconds or less so maybe it should be one of those things that "if time allows" but then you know where thats going....everyone saying there is no time. I also like the point that some people may not even know their phone called and at least if we left a message they would be aware of that. Things that make you go hmmmmmmm..... thanks for the input!
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