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Emergency Communications

"FIRST IN SERVICE, FIRST ON THE SCENE"

The Town of Groton's Emergency Communications Center (ECC) is located within the Town’s Public Safety Building at 68 Groton Long Point Road. The center is a regional 9-1-1 emergency communications center or Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) serving the Town of Groton, all of it’s political subdivisions as well as North Stonington.

The Center is operated 24/7 by certified emergency telecommunicators/dispatchers who are responsible for the receipt and transmission of emergency communications and directing the response of emergency services within our jurisdiction. We receive all 9-1-1 calls originating in Groton or North Stonington and distribute the incidents to four police departments, ten fire agencies and four emergency medical services.

The Center is also responsible for answering and dispatching all non-emergency calls for service placed with the Town of Groton Police Department. Over the course of a year we will process an average of 103,000 telephone calls a year resulting in approximately 5,400 medical calls, 3,100 fire calls and 35,000 police incidents.

The ECC is responsible for monitoring and testing burglar and fire alarm systems installed in local government facilities, schools and commercial establishments. Alarms received from the systems or street “pull” boxes are relayed to the appropriate fire and/or police agency for action.

The Center acts as an after-hours point of contact for the community. We maintain contact telephone lists for local businesses, public works, Groton schools and Ledgelight Health District for emergency services.

Our telecommunicators monitor a variety of weather and emergency warning and alert systems. Any warnings or alerts received are immediately distributed to emergency services, public officials and the public if necessary.

We also offer public education sessions on 9-1-1 to schools and local organizations. Many of the children we have taught over the years have unfortunately had to call 9-1-1 in an emergency. Knowing what to do during an emergency and what to expect when you call 9-1-1 is the first step in allowing us to get emergency services where they are needed.

9-1-1
Connecticut has a statewide enhanced 9-1-1 system. Enhanced 9-1-1 provides three-digit dialing, no coin required from pay telephones and intelligent routing to the Public Safety Answering Point responsible for the area where the phone is located. Our system displays the caller's name, address and telephone number at the Center for the dispatcher's reference. The system also has the ability to ring-back the caller on hang-up and the ability to transfer callers to other agencies or telephone numbers.

9-1-1 is an statewide emergency number for any police, fire or medical incident. We have assembled some Do's and Don'ts of 9-1-1 for your use.

Do not program 9-1-1 into your auto-dial/speed-dial telephone.
If your cellular phone has one-button dialing for 9-1-1 please disable the feature. You won't forget the number, and programming the number invites accidental dialing of the number. Everyday we receive "accidental" 9-1-1 calls from the public. Please do not dial 9-1-1 to "test" your phone or the system. This needlessly burdens the dispatchers and system with non-emergency calls.

Dial 9-1-1 only for an emergency.
An emergency is any serious medical problem (chest pain, seizure, bleeding), any type of fire (business, car, building), or any life-threatening situation (fights, person with weapons, etc.). You can also use 9-1-1 to report crimes in progress, whether or not a life is threatened.

Do not dial 9-1-1 for a non-emergency.
Instead, dial the agency's listed 7-digit non-emergency telephone number. Examples of non-emergency incidents are a break-in to a vehicle when suspect is gone, theft of property (when suspect is gone), vandalism (when suspect is gone), panhandlers, intoxicated persons who are not disorderly, or cars blocking the street or alleys. Requests for general information not related to an incident in progress should never be made to 9-1-1. Instead please call the appropriate agency direct by using their non-emergency number.

On Thursday, August 14 2003, Connecticut became part of the largest power failure in United States history. When the lights went out, we were swamped by people calling 9-1-1 to find out:

  • Is the power really out?  (yes, it is)
  • Why is the power out?  (we don't know)
  • When is the power coming back on?  (we don't know)

  • For most people, power failures are an inconvenience, not an emergency. Calling 9-1-1 to ask questions of this type only serve to tie up a limited number of phone lines keeping those with real emergencies from getting the help they need. While we were answering these calls, people who had true emergencies (people stuck in elevators, people whose medical equipment had failed, people reporting vehicle accidents with injuries, etc.) could not get through to us.

    If you feel that you must call to report a power failure, call your police or fire department's non-emergency phone number. If you have a true power-related emergency, please call 9-1-1 and we will send help.

    If you dialed 9-1-1 in error, do not hang up the telephone.
    Instead, stay on the line and explain to the dispatcher that you dialed by mistake and that you do not have an emergency. If you hang up, a dispatcher will call back to confirm that there is no emergency. Depending on the jurisdiction involved, a police officer may be dispatched to confirm that you are OK. If you don't answer when we call back, a police officer will be dispatched to confirm that you are OK. This will needlessly take resources away from genuine emergencies.

    Briefly describe the type of incident you are reporting.
    For example, "I'm reporting an auto fire," or "I'm reporting an unconscious person," or "I'm reporting a shoplifter." Then stay on the line with the dispatcher – do not hang up until the dispatcher tells you to. In some cases, the dispatcher will keep you on the line while the emergency units are responding to ask additional questions or to obtain on-going information.

    Let the dispatcher ask you questions.
    They have been trained to ask questions that will help prioritize the incident, locate it and speed an appropriate response. Your answers should be brief and responsive. Remain calm and speak clearly. If you are not in a position to give full answers to the dispatcher (the suspect is nearby), stay on the phone and the dispatcher will ask you questions that can be answered "yes" or "no."

    Be patient as the dispatcher asks you questions.
    While you are answering the dispatcher's questions, he/she is entering or writing down the information. If you are reporting an emergency, most likely a response is being made while you are still on the line with the dispatcher.

    Be prepared to describe your location and the location of the emergency.
    Although our Enhanced 9-1-1 system will display your telephone number and location, the dispatcher must confirm the displayed address or may ask you for more specific location information about the victim or suspects.

    If you are a cellular caller, your location will not be displayed for the dispatcher's reference.
    You must be able to describe your location so emergency units can respond. Be aware of your current city or town, address, highway and direction, nearby cross-streets or interchanges, or other geographic points of reference. Cellular 9-1-1 calls are frequently routed to a central PSAP that could be many miles from your location. Be prepared to give the dispatcher your complete location – city or town, address or location, inside or outside, what floor or room, etc.

    Be prepared to describe the persons involved in any incident.
    This includes their race, sex, age, height and weight, color of hair, description of clothing, and presence of a hat, glasses or facial hair.

    Be prepared to describe any vehicles involved in the incident. This includes the color, year, make, model and type of vehicle (sedan, pick-up, sport utility, van, tanker truck, flatbed, etc.). If the vehicle is parked the dispatcher will need to know the direction it's facing. If the vehicle is moving or has left, the dispatcher will need to know the last direction.

    Don't hang up until the call-taker tells you to.
    Follow any instructions the dispatcher gives you, such as meeting the officers at the door, or flagging down the firefighters at the curb. Listen to the dispatcher's instructions for assistance if you are in danger yourself. The dispatcher may tell you to leave the building, secure yourself in a room or take other action to protect yourself.

    If you are able and have training, apply first aid to any patient who need it.
    Give the victim reassurance that help is on the way. Secure any dogs or other pets that may interfere with the emergency response. Gather any medications the patient is taking as the medical crew will need to take them with the patient.

    Emergency Medical Dispatch
    As of July of 2004, all PSAPs in Connecticut will be required by state law to offer Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) services. EMD is a medically approved system by which telecommunicators prioritize the calls for service received to ensure that the proper level of response is sent to those in need. EMD is accomplished by asking the 9-1-1 caller a series of scripted, medically appropriate questions. EMD also allows the Telecommunicator to offer lifesaving instructions to the caller if appropriate.

    While State Law requires the use of EMD by July of 2004, we have been offering EMD to the community since the latter part of the 1980's. Since the inception of the program, our employees have saved, and continue to save, many lives through the use of EMD. Several of our employees have even delivered babies "over the phone" while waiting for the arrival of emergency services. EMD allows us to offer emergency medical care to the sick and injured before emergency services arrive on the scene.

    Medical Regional Communications
    The Groton Emergency Communications Center operates a regional Central Emergency Medical Dispatch (C-MED) radio system. This radio system allows the emergency medical technician (EMT) or paramedic at the scene of an emergency or in the ambulance to communicate with medical personnel at local hospital emergency rooms. Through this system, the EMT or paramedic can receive treatment instructions and authorizations from the emergency physician while keeping the hospital advised of the patient’s condition. In this manner valuable time is saved at the emergency room, as ER staff already know the treatment history of the patient. This service is not limited to those ambulances based in Groton or North Stonington. If needed, any ambulance passing through the region can be connected with a local emergency room physician at any time.

    Thanks for taking the time to visit with us today. If you need further information, please feel free to contact us.

    Groton Emergency Communications Center
    68 Groton Long Point Road
    Groton, CT  06340
    TEL 860-441-6748
    FAX 860-446-1258
    e-mail: jsastre@groton-ct.gov

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