12 year old Waltham, Massachusetts resident Luke Fournier dialed 9-1-1 from a bedroom closet when he head someone break into his home. Fournier was home alone when a man broke into his house and he called for help. The dispatcher at the Waltham Police, Tom Deptula, used the “Silent Call Procedure” and talked Fournier through the incident until police arrived. A short time later officers arrested Richard Poirier in the area and charged him him with breaking in to Fournier’s home as well as several others.
In Massachusetts all 9-1-1 PSAP’s are regulated and equipped by the State 9-1-1 Department. This allows for all PSAP’s to have the same equipment, basic training, and uniform procedures. One of the Massachusetts 9-1-1 programs is known as the “Silent Call Procedure”. This program consists of standardized training for all 9-1-1 dispatchers and a public education campaign. Dispatchers are instructed to prompt a caller who can not speak for any reason to utilize the key pad on their phone to answer questions. Pressing a number on the keypad initiates the TTY function on the 9-1-1 system and allows the dispatcher to see the callers input. Dispatchers will then ask the caller yes or no questions until help arrives.
Check out these links for more information on the Massachusetts Silent Call Procedure:
- General Public Information: http://www.mass.gov/eopss/agencies/state-911/e911/about-e911/silent-call-procedure-2.html
- A “Job Aid” for dispatchers: http://www.mass.gov/eopss/docs/setb/silent-call-procedure-job-aid.pdf
The call starts with a transfer from the Massachusetts State Police (cell phone calls are first answered by one of four regional wireless PSAP’s and then transferred to the correct local PSAP). Dispatcher Deptula does an excellent job of quickly identifying the gravity of the call, utilizing his training in the Silent Call Procedure, reassuring Fournier that help is coming, and gathering information from Fournier. This is an excellent example of an alert dispatcher staying focused and using their training.