Some people believe that all 911 calls go directly to their local dispatch center rather than to a central location so I thought a brief discussion on 911 services might be helpful. Basic 911 Service is an emergency telephone system that automatically connects 911 callers to a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP). Enhanced-911 service does the same plus shows the caller’s name, street address, and telephone number to the PSAP. This allows the PSAP to identify the caller’s location automatically if the caller is unable to communicate this information verbally to the PSAP call taker.

Police and fire calls are immediately transferred to the appropriate local dispatch center for dispatch. For medical emergencies, the appropriate EMS responder is called but the PSAP call taker stays on the line to provide appropriate emergency medical instructions while waiting for the responder to arrive.

There has been much discussion on regionalization of PSAP and dispatch services lately. Vermont reduced the number of PSAP centers from 53 to 6. Maine reduced the number of PSAP centers from 48 to 26 and is proposing to reduce the number further to 17. Massachusetts has 263 PSAP centers and Massachusetts officials are encouraging communities to regionalize their dispatch operations as most PSAP centers also function as the local dispatch service. Connecticut has 107 PSAP centers. New Hampshire and Rhode Island are the only states to have consolidated their PSAPs into one location. This saves money on upgrade costs because it is in one location rather than multiple locations.