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SMC emergency calls now sent to dispatcher

Meehan, Kelly | Wednesday, January 28, 2004

In an adjustment designed to improve emergency response time to campus, all 911 emergency calls made from Saint Mary’s are now automatically forwarded to the St. Joseph County’s office dispatcher.Prior to the change, whenever 911 was dialed from an on-campus phone, the call was sent directly to security who then would contact emergency services. According to Telecommunications Director Sandy Handley, Saint Mary’s recently updated the appropriate technology that enabled the new procedure to occur. “Whenever 911 is dialed a screen will pop up on the Security Department’s computer notifying them of the exact location from where the call took place,” Handley said. Saint Mary’s now joins Notre Dame, whose emergency calls are also directly sent to emergency dispatchers. This is partly due to an FCC ruling that will eventually mandate all 911 calls be sent directly to the local dispatch station. With all calls going directly to the St. Joseph County’s office dispatcher, Handley stresses the importance of staying on the line if 911 is dialed accidentally. Hanging up on the dispatcher’s office will prompt them to immediately call the number back and alert Saint Mary’s security to dispatch an officer. It is best to stay on the line and state that calling was an accident to avoid wasting the time of security and the 911 dispatchers, Handley said. The College’s new service is equivalent to what that used when dialing 911 from home. Saint Mary’s security will avoid a potentially delay in the emergency response process through the forwarding of calls from the student to the dispatcher. “Our goal is to provide even quicker service to our campus by getting the call out to an ambulance more quickly,” said Handley.