Here are a few items that dispatchers might want to consider.

1. If you are sending units to a fire call, but the first due units are busy, would it be a good idea to double the first alarm response? (due to the fact that the fire will be much larger when second due units get to the scene.)

2. If a call for a bus accident involving multiple injuries or a fire in a nursing home is received, shouldn't more than one ambulance be dispatched?

3. Should a fire call in a vacant building get the same response as a fire call in a building housing 30 sleeping people?

4. If you do not have ALI or ANI equipment and you receive a call from a caller who cannot verbalize, is it possible to have the caller tap out his phone number - 6 taps for 6 - 2 tap for 2 - 5 taps for 5 - one tap - 3 taps - 1 tap - three taps - then you know that the caller is at "625-1313".

5. If a hysterical caller is on the line - would it help to say - "can you hear me?" - "can you hear me?" - "let me help you" - (When you are asking a question of the caller, you are subtly requiring them to respond to you in a meaningful manner.)

6. Doors are cheap to replace - not breaking in to apartments and houses seems to be costing a lot of lives - keep in mind that the FAA and other federal agencies routinely require expenditures of one to two million dollars per life saved when requiring safety upgrades - doors cost a whole lot less than that!

7. If every message must be repeated four times due to poor radio procedures or poor radio equipment, then every public safety agency in the USA needs 400% more radio channels than they have now.

8. If none of the high band radios presently on the market will transmit or receive below 150Mhz, then how much good will it do to start using radio frequencies between 138Mhz and 150Mhz?

9. In England - a request "to make pumps four" is a request to send enough additional units so that four pumpers will be at the fire - a request to "make ambulances twenty" is a request to send enough additional units so that 20 ambulances are assigned to the incident - this methodology of ordering eliminates the frequent confusion in the USA which comes from sending "two additional units" plus "three more additional units" - is that a request for a total of three or a total of five units? - it often gets very confusing.

I hope that these ideas will help someone someday - take care - Peter Szerlag


July 15, 1998

Have you thought about what you will do when the new international satellite radio phones come on line? What if you get a call from someone on safari in Africa and they have been gored by a nasty elephant or something? Will you call the State Department in Wash DC; will you call your nearest military base?; will you call the ATT Language Line?; do you have emergency numbers for other countries? (999, 000, 111, 112, 19, 102, 101, 100, 115, 118, 991, etc, etc, etc) Can anyone make an international phone call to 999 in the United Kingdom? (I doubt it).


June 13, 1999 - More Good Stuff

A. Here is some handy terminology to use - the north bound lanes of Route 66 (a limited access highway / an autobahn / a freeway / a major motorway) are all in the northbound "barrel" or the northbound "roadway" - the southbound lanes of Route 66 are all in the "southbound barrel" or the "southbound roadway". All of the westbound lanes are in the westbound barrel/roadway, and all of the eastbound lanes are in the eastbound barrel/roadway.

If a unit is ordered to go northbound in a southbound lane, are they travelling : contrary, adverse, reverse, or "in the wrong direction"? (To me "reverse" means that the transmission of the vehicle is in "R".)

B. If you have a caller on the line who is a car somewhere, and they don't know where they are - then have them blow their car horn three times (then 3 times again, then 3 times again, etc) - or have them flash their headlights or breake lights in groups of three - or have them race their motor in burst of three - or have them fire three shots from a gun - or have them start yelling for help. Alternately, blow some sirens on the east side of your district - if the caller cant hear them, then blow some sirens on the north side of the district - etc - etc -etc...When the caller can hear the sirens, then the fun begins!

C. If someone calls in and no one can find them, then trace the call as far back as possible - find out who dialed the 911 call - find out where the 911 call was dialed from - speak to people at the payphone or in the area - search the area around the payphone.

D. The California Highway Patrol uses these various descriptive words - center divider (divides the 2 barrels of a highway), top of the ramp (nearest the beginning of a ramp), bottom of the ramp (nearest the end of a ramp), number 1 lane (lane closest to the center divider), right side shoulder (breakdown lane next to the slowest speed lane).

E. When talking to the public, use the term "911E" and not the phrase "E911". We would not someone to dial E-9-1-1 in an emergency and fail to reach an emergency operator.


Do you know the difference between these words and phrases?

Top floor - roof deck - penthouse - highest occupied floor

Vacant - unoccupied - all clear - empty - no one home - vacated - evacuated

Evacuate - remove all civilians - remove all civilians and non-fire staff - remove everyone - abandon - emergency evacuation

Overturned - rolledover - on its side - on its roof - flipped over - crashed - wrecked - smashed

Behind - in the rear part of the structure - 2 streets over - back side of - in the back yard - outside of the rear side of the structure

At the side of the road - in the breakdown lane - off in the woods or ditch

There - their

Dead - fainted - collapsed

The caller can't say what the problem is - the caller does not know what the problem is - the caller is being prevented from saying what the problem is

The "Echo Method" for radio communicating (where the dispatcher repeats every message tranmitted to him) ensures that a message is received - it also ensures that the correct message is received.

Report to - proceed to - give a status report to - take orders from

secure - lock the door - go available

is secure - is safe - is locked

Added - 9/19/99 - 10/22/99


If you have an answering machine on a public-safety telephone line, does the recording go like this? "This is a recording - if you have an emergency, hang up and dial 911 - Otherwise, if you wish to leave a message, please wait for the beep". (Added - 9/19/99)


Do you know which of these phrases will most likely be confused?

A. they havent signed on yet - they have signed on

B. I havent checked - I have checked

C. received the message - repeat the message

Added - 9/19/99


Here is a link to a file that gives detailed info about the radio phrases and techniques used in air traffic control. Please notice that they pay very close attention to their radio communications procedures.



Please see the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) file on this website for a couple of Communications Manuals that give extensive insight into the operations of a large communications organization.


Please see Alaskan Railroad Radio Procedures for detailed info about railroad radio communications.


Here are the emergency reporting directions for the world-famous CERN scientific center in Switzerland - 1995 CERN Safety Guide


Great Websites For Dispatchers

The Dispatcher's Break Room by Linda Olmstead

The Dispatch Monthly Magazine Website

APCO Website

NENA Website


Caution - Errors may be extensive - utility may be limited - the check is in the mail :-)


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