Local Profile has partnered with Plano Police‘s crime prevention officer Chris Bianez to bring you important information on safety in Collin County. We will cover a different topic every week.

These may seem scary to talk about; the world can be a scary place. But rather than inciting fear, we want to help you be aware and empowered to make your Safety First.

Everyone has had to call 911 at some point in their lives (or very likely will, if they haven’t already). But what goes into making the call, besides dialing those three numbers drilled into your memory since you were a child? And is it really 911 you need to call?

Here are some tips for what makes an effective 911 (or non-emergency) call that saves valuable time, resources and peace of mind for all involved.

Calling 911 tip #1: Know the difference between a non-emergency call and a 911 call

Did you know that Plano has a non-emergency line? That number is 972-424-5678. Put it in your phone, on your fridge, wherever you can to remember it and keep it handy!

Call the non-emergency line when:

  • There’s a time delay of a non-threatening crime
  • There is no suspect in sight of a committed crime
  • There is concern of an ongoing crime that’s not currently in progress

Call 911 when:

  • You witness a crime
  • You fear for your safety, or the safety of someone else
  • You need to report any suspicious person, vehicle or circumstance

Think of it this way: you come home from vacation to find that someone has spray painted vulgarities on your garage door, but the suspect is nowhere to be seen. That’s a non-emergency call!

Now imagine you come home from vacation and you see someone right there on your property, in the act of vandalism. That’s a 911 call!

Calling 911 tip #2: If you call 911, be calm and ready with information

So the first thing want to do when you call 911 is just to take a breath to calm and stabilize yourself — do the rescue type breathing where you breathe in for four seconds, hold for four seconds, and breathe out for four seconds.

You need to calm yourself as much as you can, because what you’re about to communicate is important, and you need to be ready to listen in turn.

The first thing that the dispatcher is going to ask you is something like this: “What’s the address of your emergency?” That’s the most critical piece of information you’re about to relay. After that, “What’s the emergency?”

When the call taker takes the call, they’re not simultaneously dispatching. hey’re typing the information in, and someone else is looking at those notes, and then allocating the resources to get help there. So you just calm, when the dispatcher asks you questions based on whatever situations going on.

Calling 911 tip #3: Create a Smart911 profile

In 2020, City of Plano partnered with Smart911. This gives emergency responders a more accurate reading of details (such as location) to get you help faster after you call on your mobile phone.

Creating a profile and registering your phone (it’s free!) saves time for 911 call takers to track your location and note crucial details such as medical information, description of vehicles, emergency contacts, and a photograph.

Your profile’s information will be kept private and secure. You can provide as much or as little information as you would like.

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Jordan Jarrett

Jordan is the digital manager at Local Profile. She creates digital, print and social content. Her passion is profiling people and their experiences, connecting community through authentic narrative.