After a car accident, how do I talk with 911?

Car accidents can be scary. Indeed, even just thinking about a car accident can be anxiety inducing, and so to is that first 9-1-1 call after a car accident. This can be true of those involved in the motor vehicle accident, and also for witnesses and passersby. Though, if we prepare now, we can make the emergency dispatcher process much easier.

First, be mentally prepared

Take a breath before the call, and then continue to breathe to keep calm. This is imperative to ensure the accurate transfer of information. Remember, this call is to get help, not to get anyone in trouble.

Location, location, location

The first bit of information the 9-1-1 Dispatcher will want is the car accident location. If needed, take stock of the location before the phone call. This includes cross streets, city information, highway exit information, mile markers and, if available, GPS coordinates.

Be direct and ask for first responders

Responders throughout the country, including dispatchers in North Carolina, are increasingly looking for reasons not to dispatch first responders because of a lack of service providers or over-extended first responders. This is why 9-1-1 callers must be specific. In other words, ask for police, ambulance and fire, as needed. For example:

“We need a police officer and ambulance to the corner of Reagan Drive and Tom Hunter Road in Charlotte, North Carolina. There has been a car accident between an SUV and small car, and there appears to be injuries. We need police and an ambulance now.”

Staying on the line

For those in Charlotte that were actually involved in the car accident, after giving this information, it may be a good idea to disconnect from 9-1-1. They have what they need, and if one stays on the phone, they may say something they regret later in subsequent litigation. Words can be misconstrued. Apologizes, even if just polite, can be taken as an admission of guilt.

For Charlotte, North Carolina, witnesses though, the 9-1-1 Dispatcher will likely want them to stay on-the-line, which is preferable. Give the dispatcher one’s contact information and description of events. This can help figure out what happened and hold negligent drivers accountable for the actions.

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