Scotts Bluff County - Communications E 911 Center

911 Frequently Asked Questions

Where does my call go after I dial 9-1-1 in Scotts Bluff County?
The telephone company routes your call to the appropriate 9-1-1 call center, while searching a database for information about your call. All information is configured and compiled on the computerized call system before your call rings at the Scotts Bluff County Communications Center. The technology can require up to eight seconds or more to complete this process, especially with cell phones, but usually much less. You may hear "ringing" during this period, or you may hear dead air. Do not hang up. The average Scotts Bluff County emergency call is answered within three rings at the Center.

On the rare occasions when all Scotts Bluff County dispatchers are assisting with other emergencies, calls are temporarily placed into a "ringing hold" until an operator becomes available to take your call. When the call load is extremely heavy, an operator may answer and ask if your call can be put on hold. Do not hang up. Your emergency call will be picked up as quickly as possible.

The Scotts Bluff County Communications Center uses a two-stage answering process. 9-1-1 operators answer incoming calls, enter information into a computer automated dispatch (CAD) system, and send that information to dispatchers. Dispatchers communicate with and manage the workload of public safety responders to ensure that priority emergencies receive the suitable response.

The dispatcher assigns emergency responders to your call and relays information to them as you are speaking to the 9-1-1 operator. If your call does not require the emergency attention of a police, fire, or medical response, the dispatcher will assign responders as they are available to address your situation.

Why shouldn't I call 9-1-1 and hang up?
Scotts Bluff County Communications operators will attempt to call back all 9-1-1 calls that are disconnected before they can be answered. If you hang up, we may not receive the information needed from the telephone company to call you back or locate you. Unless an operator connects with the caller, police officers will investigate the 9-1-1 call. If you do not have an emergency, you will be taking resources from people that are in emergency situations. Even if you accidently call 9-1-1, stay on the line and speak with the operator.

What if I accidently dial 9-1-1?
Do not hang up without talking to a 9-1-1 operator. Tell the operator you misdialed. If you do not respond to the operator's answer or hang up before speaking to an operator, the operator will attempt to call you back. If the operator receives a busy signal, voice mail, or no answer, police are dispatched to search for you and verify that you are not in danger. Learn how to prevent unintential 9-1-1 calls from your cell phone.

Why ask for my address and phone number - don't you have them from the telephone company?
The telephone information provided to the Scotts Bluff County Communications may be incomplete, inaccurate, or delayed. For your safety and the safety of the responders, your location and phone number must be verified. If you do not verify your address and phone number, we may not know where to send help.

Why do you ask for my address two times when I want an ambulance?
You are asked for your address and phone number twice because you first speak with a 9-1-1 operator, who then connects your call to a medical dispatcher. While the operator is connecting your call with the medical dispatcher you will hear a clicking noise followed by silence before hearing the medical dispatcher answer your call. DO NOT HANG UP. The medical dispatcher will confirm your address and phone number to ensure the information has not been lost or distorted during the transfer.

The 9-1-1 operator gathers your address and phone number to ensure that help can be sent to you even if your call is lost during the transfer to the medical dispatcher. Calls are lost because people hang up the phone or the cell phone momentarily loses reception. If your call is lost during the transfer, the dispatcher will contact the correct medical dispatch agency, ask them to start medics to the address you gave us, and the medical dispatcher will attempt to call you back on the number provided to the 9-1-1 operator.

Why do you ask for descriptions? Why can't I tell the police after they arrive who it was and where they went?
Police officers look for criminals on their way to the victim. Descriptions that set that criminal apart from others are needed for effective identification and apprehension.

Why don't you know how long it will take for an officer to arrive?
At times, the number of calls for help exceed the number of police officers in your area that are able to respond immediately to your call. Dispatchers send police as soon as an officer becomes available to respond to your call. The arrival time at your emergency cannot be estimated.

Available officers may need to travel several miles to your emergency over roads obstructed by traffic or affected by weather conditions. Dispatchers assign officers to emergencies based on the urgency of the situation and the need to maintain police coverage throughout the County.

If your emergency is escalating and the danger of someone being harmed changes, call 9-1-1 again and update the circumstances with the 9-1-1 operator. The police dispatcher will adjust the urgency and priority of your call based on the information they have.

I called the non-emergency line and I was told to call someone else, why?
The 911 operator refers callers to the agency or person best able to provide a solution to their unique situation. As the communications hub for the County, the Scotts Bluff County Communications Center answers and directs your non-emergency call to those in the best position to provide help.

I was scared and worried, why did the operator sound so calm?
Operators understand the trauma and urgency of your emergency. However, to quickly get help to your emergency, the operator is trained to stay calm while obtaining the critical information necessary to rush the right help to the right location. Operators remain calm to help you think and speak clearly so you can control the emergency situation and help those in danger as best you can. Operators will help you stay calm so that you can work effectively with the first responders upon their arrival or to administer medical help.

Why do you only want to know what happened today?
The 9-1-1 operator needs to know what is happening right now to send the right help to the right location as quickly as possible. When police, fire, or medical responders arrive, tell them the background information they need to understand your emergency.

Will I get help faster if I say there is a weapon or someone is injured?
Yes, but don't say someone is injured or there is a weapon just to get help faster. Exaggerating the problem only takes away services from other people that need help too.

Why does it take so long for help to arrive?
Emergency responders start for any emergency after they are dispatched to the call, but they may be slowed by weather, traffic, blocked train crossing or factors that make it difficult to find the address of your emergency. Make sure you clearly provide as much detail as possible about the address and precise location of your emergency.

Prominently displaying your street address to the street and alley helps public safety responders find you. When it is dark, help responders find you by turning on a porch or other lights. If possible, wait by the street to flag down and direct responders to your emergency.

If you are in a secured building, help responders by opening the door for them. If officers cannot get inside the building, they will be unable to help resolve the situation.

How private is my call?
The Scotts Bluff County dispatchers maintain the confidentiality of your call. However, all Scotts Bluff County telephone calls are recorded with the exception of Crime Stoppers. Recordings are available to police officers, fire fighters, and county / state prosecutors. Frequently, 9-1-1 calls are entered as evidence in a court of law.

Cell Phones?
Approximately 65 percent of 9-1-1 calls in Scotts Bluff County are made from cell phones. Unlike hard-wired telephones, cell telephone numbers are not assigned a physical address, which creates problems locating your emergency. The 9-1-1 operator answering your call will need your detailed location information to send help to your emergency.

The cell tower that receives a 9-1-1 cell call routes it to the nearest 9-1-1 center. At times, the Scotts Bluff County Emergency Communications Center receives cell phone calls from the border areas of adjacent counties. Always tell the 9-1-1 operator the CITY your emergency is located in to ensure routing of your emergence call to the closest first responders.

Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP)?
VOIP telephones operate through the internet and they are assigned a physical address. make certain that your VOIP address is the same as your residence. If your VOIP registered address is in Scotts Bluff County, but you live in Montana or Iowa, your 9-1-1 calls will be routed to the Scotts Bluff County Emergency Communications Center. If you are unable to speak when calling 9-1-1 on a VOIP phone with an incorrect address, help may not arrive for you.

Every Scotts Bluff County 9-1-1 operator has TTY capability for emergency and non-emergency calls and can communicate directly with callers unable to hear the operator. While TTY relay services are available to the Communications Center they might significantly slow the response time to your emergency. TTY callers are encouraged to call 9-1-1 directly.

Nebraska Law requires that Private Branch Exchange (PBX) multi-line systems, often used in hospitals, businesses, schools, banks, hotels, or any phone system you must dial 9 for an outside line, to provide unique 9-1-1 caller location data, not the PBX location. PBX callers may need to dial a preceding digit to reach 9-1-1, may need to provide detailed information on their location, and may need to ensure that emergency responders have entry access to the building, complex, or institution.

Updated: 2011.02.22 - 14:20 MDT