Calls to 911 and South Sound 911’s non-emergency line are answered by a telecommunicator. The telecommunicator will obtain some basic information — namely WHAT the emergency is and WHERE. The telecommunicator will enter that information into the computer-aided dispatch system where it is received by dispatchers who work with responders in the field. In the meantime, the telecommunicator will either begin emergency medical instruction, obtain additional details, or if the call is determined to be non-emergency, the call will be transferred to the non-emergency queue where it will be on hold until priority emergency calls are answered and staff is available to assist. (This infographic shows the workflow of how South Sound 911 handles incoming 911 calls.)

If additional information is asked for during the call, do not despair, the telecommunicator is relaying information to dispatchers during the call. The telecommunicator’s questions do not delay the dispatch of aid!

A common misunderstanding is that South Sound 911 determines when and how first responders are dispatched. In fact, dispatch protocols are determined by the police or fire agencies South Sound 911 dispatches. After a call is entered for dispatch, the response is the responsibility of the police and/or fire agency.

(Fire/EMS calls within the city limits of Tacoma, Ruston, Fircrest or Fife will be transferred to and handled by the Tacoma Fire Department.)