Tinker AFB Officials: Notify dispatchers you’re on base when calling 911

  • Published
  • By Clayton Cummins

Time is of the essence in the event of an emergency such as a fire. Minutes often determine the difference between life-or-death, minor damage to property or a total loss. In order to ensure the fastest possible response by firefighters, officials at Tinker Air Force Base are reminding the public to notify dispatchers right away that you are located on Tinker Air Force Base.

While using a landline on base to call 911 automatically takes to you to Tinker’s 911 emergency communications center or PSAP (Public Safety Answering Point), that is not always the case for cell phone users.

Many variables such as the time of day or cell phone provider determines where wireless 911 calls are routed.

“Depending on where you are, how busy the cell towers are and what tower you hit, you could come into Tinker’s PSAP or any other surrounding area such as Oklahoma City, Del City or Midwest City,” says Lori Shannon, Emergency Communications Center supervisor at Tinker AFB. “When we answer a 911 call, we say ‘Tinker 911, are you reporting an emergency?’ We identify ourselves but not all 911 centers do that. You might not know where your call got routed to.”

Off base emergency communications centers are unable to dispatch for Tinker’s first responders. The more time you spend on the phone with an off-base dispatcher, means the longer it will take first responders on base to respond.

Stating your base location at the beginning of the call is an indicator for dispatchers on whether your call needs to be transferred or not.

“It is very important to know that if you are not going to use a landline on base and you’re using a cell phone, you need to let dispatchers know that you are on Tinker Air Force Base,” says Jerol Williams, fire inspector at Tinker AFB. “They can get in contact with our dispatch, so we can dispatch out our people.”

In the event of a fire, it is important not to panic. Provide dispatchers with the most amount of information possible.

“We are going to ask for a call back number if we get disconnected, we need to know your location, we need to know what is happening,” says Shannon. “Everyone here is certified as emergency medical dispatchers meaning we can assist you with CPR, choking, any minor thing we will walk you through that before dispatching units get on scene.”

“I know a lot of people’s first response is wanting to put the fire out,” said Williams. “Calling 911 and getting the wheels started is the number one thing to do. Don’t panic, get all of the information and work with dispatch.”