When an emergency strikes at home or work, and urgent attention is required, you may not realize how important that first step 9-1-1 call actually is.

People still laugh at me for having a land line phone, but if nothing else, you should spend the $22 per month (maybe even cheaper if you consider bundling), just in case emergency services are needed.

Also, 9-1-1 has your telephone number and address once the call is placed, and this saves valuable time.

The dispatcher will immediately ask you the nature of your call, and here is where it's important to be clear, concise, and quick.  For example, "someone is trying to break into my home from the sliding glass door in the backyard.  I can't make out any features at this time.  Please stay on the line with me until help arrives."  Another example, "possible heart attack; severe arm, back, neck and chest pain for 30 minutes".

Remember, when calling 9-1-1, your ONLY goal is to get the dispatcher to hit the go button,  so assistance in the manner is swift and reasonable in response time.

Unfortunately, I recently had no choice but to use the service for a medical emergency, and the City of Lufkin gets an "A+" grade in the way it was handled.  Here's why:

(1)  9-1-1 call was answered on third ring

(2)  Dispatcher was professional and courteous.  From the time we first spoke until we hung up was all of 22 seconds, and this included the address being repeated back to me.

(3)  Paramedics arrived within seven minutes.

(4)  Patient was assessed, stabilized as best possible, and in ambulance seven minutes later.

In conclusion, time is of the utmost essence.  But, it all begins with that 9-1-1 phoner.  Be smart when placing the call.  Get to the point, and do it without yelling, screaming or relentless rambling.

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