April is 9-1-1 Education Month

Written by KOVA Corp

Part of educating our young about how to be good citizens is teaching them the critical lesson of how to be safe – and in the event of an emergency that threatens their safety, how to get help immediately. Teaching children early and thoroughly that 9-1-1 is not a toy, but a way to keep themselves and others safe, is a priority in today’s society.

It was with this important objective in mind that the United States Congress in 2008 recognized April as National 9-1-1 Education Month, supporting the initiative of the National 9-1-1 Education Coalition, an alliance of eight national organizations dedicated to advancing public safety communications.

The Coalition is made up of the NG9-1-1 Institute, 9-1-1 For Kids, the Industry Council for Emergency Response Technologies (iCERT), the Association of Public Safety Officials (APCO), CTIA – The Wireless Association, the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch (NAED), the National Association for State 9-1-1 Administrators (NASNA), and the National Emergency Number Association (NENA).

Each April the NG9-1-1 Institute celebrates 9-1-1 Education Month by co-hosting a kickoff celebration, conducting 9-1-1 education outreach efforts by providing 9-1-1 educators with a coordinated education campaign in an attempt to teach both children and adults about the appropriate use of 9-1-1 and how to call 9-1-1.

2014 Campaign Theme

The national campaign theme for its education and awareness outreach remains “BE 9-1-1 READY.”

You can be a part of the campaign by encouraging members of your community to understand that being ready to call 9-1-1 will help public safety answering points provide the assistance they need quickly and correctly.

Key messages that should be considered include:

  • Know Where You Are: Where are you right now?  Could you tell 9-1-1 exactly where to find you?
  • 911:  Call If You Can, Text If You Can’t: Your local public safety answering point may not be able to accept text messages, photos and video. A voice call continues to be the best way to reach 9-1-1.
  • Use a Landline: Whenever possible, use a landline to call 9-1-1. Cell phone calls aren’t always routed to the closest call center and it can take time to transfer your call to the correct call center.
  • Stay Calm and Ready to Listen:  9-1-1 is here to guide you until help arrives.  Be ready to listen and follow directions.

Additional Sample Key Messages

  • When calling 9-1-1, one of the first things you will be asked to provide is the location of the emergency you’re reporting.
  • The call taker may not automatically know your location or may ask you to confirm it.
  • Tell the call taker the location of the emergency. Provide landmarks such as cross streets and mileposts.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings.

Additional Facts about 9-1-1

  • 9-1-1 was established in 1967 as the single number to be used nationwide for cases of emergencies.
  • The number 9-1-1 was perfect to use because prior to 1967 that number combination had not been chosen for anything, including office, area, and service codes, plus it "best met the long range of numbering plans and switching configurations of the telephone industry."
  • In the year 2010 Tennessee implemented a Text to 9-1-1 trial so in cases of emergencies when someone can't call, they can text instead.
  • The U.S. states aren't the only ones to use the number 9-1-1 for emergencies, Canada does along with some British overseas territories as well.

In honor of 9-1-1 Education Month,  you could arrange a school visit to your local PSAP, ask representatives from your local PSAP to visit your school, hold a street fair or block party, or offer to go to your child's or grandchild’s class and read about 9-1-1. Other ideas include conferences and training events for parents, teachers, and care-givers that bring together the public safety community and industry leaders in a common effort to promote 9-1-1 education. Emergency communication tips are vital for survival, so consider taking part in 911 education.

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