Special Report: When every Second Counts

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - When there is a medical emergency, getting the victim to the hospital and doctor's care as fast as possible is often the difference between life and death.

Calls to 911 for help can often cause confusion, because the operators are not heard dispatching the ambulance.

The clock is now running. Will emergency personnel get a person in need of emergency medical help to doctors in time? But often panicked family members or witnesses calling 911 don't understand why the communications officer stays on the line with them, asking questions, rather than dispatching the ambulance.

Albany 911 Communications officer Nicole Jackson says "Someone else is dispatching. We are going to try to get them to you as soon as possible."

Often 911 callers are panicked to begin with, and think these questions are delaying help. Albany 911 Center Assistant Communications Manager Sheila Sims said "Most of the time they get angry. Is the paramedic on the way? How long is it going to be before they get here? But we are giving them information to help them, until the paramedics arrive on the scene."

The caller doesn't hear the dispatching, because it's done by computer and with the help of other dispatchers. Jackson says "Yes ma'am, we are getting them on the way to you. Is he prescribed medication for it?"

Dougherty County Emergency Medical Service Director Greg Rowe said "She's already alerted the station. They've already got the information. The information comes across as either a page or a text message on the phone."

The ambulance is on its way, but those questions being asked are vital information for the paramedics when they arrive.

Sims said "Every second counts. So the information they relay to us, is the information Rowe said "And they are giving us that information so that when we get there, less talk and more action. And we get the right treatment done."

Jackson asks: "How old is the patient? Is he conscious? And he's breathing normally?"

Through years of experience these professionals have learned the best and quickest ways to get help to you.

Rowe said "The main that the public needs to know is generally when they are asking all those questions, we're in route."

Sims said "Answer the questions. Staying as calm as possible. Helping us help them until the paramedics get there."

That information you give could be the couple of seconds needed to make the difference between life and death for someone in need of immediate help. Paramedics say the 911 caller can often save minutes by staying calm and giving common sense information, like whether the paramedics need to come to the front or back door, or if the road to the victim is blocked.

In an emergency, information can save time, and possibly lives.

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