In 1994, the Town of Huntington joined the Massachusetts State Police Enhanced 911 (E911) Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP). This center is located inside the Northampton State Police barracks on King Street in Northampton and is staffed 24 hours a day. All calls for police, fire, or ambulance services in Huntington are handled by this PSAP. This PSAP is a regional dispatch center that receives police, fire and ambulance requests for fourteen Western Massachusetts towns in Hampshire and Hampden counties. It also answers most of the cellular emergency calls for all of Western Massachusetts .

In addition to handling 9-1-1 emergency calls, this PSAP is responsible for facilitating radio communications between the Massachusetts State Police cruisers from the Northampton and Springfield barracks. The dispatchers provide officers with critical information from the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, the Criminal History Systems Board, the National Crime Information Center , the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and any other police department in the United States and its territories via the CJIS terminal computer (Criminal Justice Information System). This system can be queried to check for outstanding warrants, stolen vehicles, and missing persons. Dispatchers also have the ability to communicate with other police departments over the radio via the W.M.L.E.C. system (Western Massachusetts Law Enforcement Channel) in the event of an inter-city emergency or mutual aid situation. Civilian dispatchers work in shifts of two or three 24 hours a day.

911 Dispatcher

A dispatcher enters call information into the CAD (computer-aided dispatch)

The "E" in E911 stands for "enhanced." Enhanced 9-1-1 service was adopted in Massachusetts in 1990 and is a great assistant to the emergency dispatch operators. If you dial 9-1-1 from a land-based telephone in the Town of Huntington (not cellular telephones), your call will be routed to the Northampton PSAP. At the same time the dispatcher answers your call, a small video screen in front of the dispatcher displays your name, your address, your telephone number, and any special disability indicators you may have. This information is called the ANI/ALI (Automated Number Index, Automated Locator Index) and in the event you are unable to speak, the dispatch center has this minimal information about from where you are calling and can send help to you right away. Even if you have Caller ID Blocking or Anonymous Call Rejection activated on your phone, the ANI/ALI information will still go to the PSAP.

An E911 Console

An E911 call station. The small screen on the right displays the ANI/ALI information.

Another benefit of Enhanced 911 service is that the ANI/ALI information comes into the dispatch center as soon as you finish dialing the last "1" in 9-1-1 . Even if you hang up the phone before the dispatcher answers on the other end, your ANI/ALI information has already been received at the PSAP. Likewise, if your phone is disabled before the call is answered (for example, your phone is ripped out of the wall during a domestic dispute) the ANI/ALI information will still be received at the dispatch center.

While this information is invaluable in the event of a real emergency, it can lead to the unnecessary activation of police, fire and ambulance personnel for accidental or false 9-1-1 calls. It is very important that if you accidentally dial 9-1-1 you remain on the line and tell the dispatcher that the phone call was accidental. Answer all the questions the dispatcher asks and do not hang up until you are told to do so by the dispatcher. The dispatcher will take the time to confirm that your ANI/ALI information is correct so that in the event of a real emergency help can be sent to the right location.

When To Dial 9-1-1

It is also important to know when it is appropriate to dial 9-1-1 . The Massachusetts Statewide Emergency Telecommunications Board (SETB) has established a simple three-step rule for when it is appropriate to dial 9-1-1 . The rule states you should dial 9-1-1 ONLY to:

Note that to meet this criteria, the incident must be in progress. Reporting that your bike was stolen yesterday is reporting a crime, but it is not in progress. Remember, if you are calling for the police, fire or ambulance and your situation does not fall under the three-step rule above, then you should not be dialing 9-1-1 . Instead, please use the appropriate non-emergency contact number for the Huntington Police Department, which in most instances is (413) 586-1508.

When you call 9-1-1 it is important to stay on the telephone. Be prepared to give the following information:

1. The phone number you are calling from

2. The address where you are located

3. The nature of the problem

When dialing 9-1-1 in Huntington, your police dispatcher will say," 9-1-1 , this line is being recorded. What is your emergency?" It is important to then give the above information. If the emergency requires the response of the ambulance, the dispatcher will stay on the line and provide Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) instructions while simultaneously another dispatcher will send out the ambulance and first-responder personnel. EMD instructions are a very effective tool in stabilizing a medical emergency prior to the arrival of ambulance and emergency medical personnel. These instructions will assist you in simple language you can understand. The dispatcher can help you do everything from administering CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) to delivering a baby. Remember, answer all the questions the dispatcher asks, follow the dispatcher's instructions exactly and do not hang up until you are told to do so.

In the event of placing a 9-1-1 call and you are unable to speak to the dispatcher, press the following number corresponding to your emergency:

All dispatch terminals are also equipped to communicate with teletypewriters.

It is important to remember that most 9-1-1 calls from a cellular telephone are answered by this Northampton PSAP. Some calls generate ANI information and some don't. Because a cellular telephone is mobile, it is impossible for the 9-1-1 operator to know exactly from where you are calling. For example, a cellular telephone user in Pittsfield , Massachusetts dialing 9-1-1 will reach the Northampton PSAP. It is extremely important the you always say what city and state your emergency is in when dialing 9-1-1 from a cellular telephone. Stay on the line and answer all the dispatcher's questions and do not hang up until you are told to do so.



(This information obtained from the Hatfield, MA police department website.  Thank you to them.)

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