Kane County’s 911 system, known as KaneComm, is staffed by over 20 dedicated professionals, including 15 telecommunicators who last year answered 136,949 calls to 911.
The mantra they live by is “your worst day is our work day.”
Kane County recognizes 911 Education Month in April through a conversation with KaneComm Director Michelle Guthrie.
Location, Location, Location.
Guthrie says many people take for granted that they will know how to use 911 if an emergency occurs. “I think the misconception is you need to know what the emergency is right away. Really, the most important detail is the location because as soon as we have that we can get emergency responders en route right away.”
Children and 911
Teach your children how to call 911. In many instances, children have saved the day by calling 911. “Children are typically the best callers because they want help, they listen well and they respond to questions from our telecommunicators,” said Guthrie.
Know How Accidental 911 Calls Happen
There is a growing list of technologies on smart devices that make it easier to call 911, but also can trigger an unintentional misdial. Guthrie says they fielded approximately 7,000 accidental calls in 2021. She says accidental calls require a call back and that can put an extra load on the system. If you call 911 on accident, do not hang up. Stay on the phone so telecommunicators can confirm that you do not have an emergency. Don’t let small children play with old cell phone that still has a battery. A phone with a battery can still call 911 and may result in accidental calls to 911. Remove the battery prior to letting a child play with an old cell phone.
Call If You Can, Text If You Can’t
Text-to-911 is available throughout Kane County. The service benefits individuals who are hearing impaired or in a situation where they cannot speak and make a voice call. “If possible, a call to 911 is still the best way to reach emergency services,” said Guthrie. “Call 911 if you can, text if you can’t.”
Update Your Address If You Use a VoIP Phone
VoIP is a Voice over Internet Protocol phone that uses internet-based technology rather than traditional phone lines. Some examples of VoIP providers include MagicJack, Vonage, Ooma, etc. Guthrie says one of the challenges for 911 and VoIP phone providers is keeping the customers address for their VoIP phone service up-to-date. Changing the address after a move is critical for 911 so the VoIP phone routes to the correct 911 center. KaneComm has seen an uptick in the number of people and businesses with VoIP phones who have not updated their address. “We had caller who had moved to Puerto Rico and didn’t change their address, and the 911 call was routed to Kane County,” said Guthrie. She says 911 can transfer the call, but in an emergency, every second counts.
There is also a statewide effort underway to reclassify the job description of 911 telecommunicators from administrative/clerical to protective services. Guthrie says it’s a way to recognize the critical work telecommunicators do. “A 9-1-1 telecommunicator is really the first, “first” responder.” Join KaneComm! Apply at www.countyofkane.org/Pages/Employment.