If you've ever listened to recordings of 911 calls, you may have noticed that the operators sometimes seem frustrated with the callers. The reason for this isn't that the operators aren't compassionate, but simply that they have a professional goal of gathering the necessary information as fast as possible. Callers, who are often panicking, may repeat unnecessary details over and over again, unable to think clearly, which means the 911 operators can't properly help them. In a line of work where a few seconds can mean the difference between life and death, this is a very big issue.
So, if you're able to keep calm and talk clearly after a car accident, what should you tell the 911 operator? The most important pieces of information include:
Where the Accident Happened
This is the single most important thing you'll tell the operator. Look for nearby landmarks and cross streets. Look for house numbers. The operator's top priority is sending emergency crews to your location. This can't begin until you tell the operator exactly where you are. Making a mistake here can be incredibly costly, so take a deep breath, focus, and provide accurate information.
Of secondary importance is what exactly happened. You'll likely lead with the fact that you were in a car accident, so the operator already knows what happened in a general sense, but more details are needed to understand if you simply need a police response for a traffic hazard, emergency crews for minor or serious injuries, or the fire department for a car that has burst into flames.
Finally, as you wait for emergency crews to arrive, give the 911 operator your identifying information. This can include your name, your phone number, and the like. You may also want to note your involvement in the accident. Are you in the crash itself, did you see it ahead of you on the street, or are you a bystander who is calling because you watched the wreck take place? Police may want to talk to you later to get more details, after everyone is safe.
If you were hurt in the crash, you may have a legal right to compensation. In some cases, the details from the 911 call may be used to help back up your claim, showing how the wreck happened, proving that you were involved, and connecting your injuries directly to the crash.
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