August 20, 2004  


Making 911 and 9-911 Calls at SLAC

By Robert Reek

In the past, 911/9-911 calls made from SLAC phones could not be traced to the location of the call. This was potentially dangerous for anyone who might be alone in an emergency and unable to respond to questions, preventing emergency personnel from locating the victim or emergency. 

Recently, however, SCS has provided new technology that allows SLAC Safeguards and Security (now monitoring the fire alarm system) to locate the phone from which a 911/9-911 call is made. If the caller does not respond to the dispatcher, Security’s policy is to dispatch an officer who can then direct fire and other emergency personnel to the exact location.

But with this added protection comes added responsibility. To ensure that an emergency response is not initiated unnecessarily, whenever you call 911/9-911 please stay on the line to give complete information to the operator. The following is an example of what can happen when a 911 call is received with a hang up and no additional information is available.

On July 14, 2004, SLAC received a 911 hang-up call from a phone in the tunnel between CEH (Bldg. 750) and the north adit. The person making the call left the scene and did not provide any additional information. Security and Palo Alto Fire Department (PAFD) Engine 7 responded to the location identified by Security personnel using the new system. Upon entering the tunnel, the Engine 7 fire crew’s gas detector indicated elevated levels of hydrogen sulfide, forcing the crew to retreat. Without knowing exactly what they had (a fire, rescue or both), the engine captain requested additional personnel and equipment.

When backup arrived, the crew put on their self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), reentered the tunnel, and conducted a search of the entire tunnel area.  They discovered there was no fire or rescue situation. 

Although it is comforting to know that SLAC can depend on a quick and thorough response from the PAFD, in this case it was unnecessary. The department was forced to dispatch equipment and 11 personnel to handle a fire and rescue, including a battalion chief, two engines, one truck and a rescue trailer. This meant they were unavailable to respond to other emergencies.

So to avoid tying up emergency resources and possibly endangering others, if you make a 911/9-911 call, stay on the line. If you must leave the scene for any reason, please contact the operator or Security as soon as possible and advise them of the extent of the emergency. If you dial a 911/9-911 operator by mistake, please remain on the line and advise the operator of the mistake to avoid unnecessary emergency response.

If you have any questions about 911/9-911 procedures, please call Safeguards and Security (Ext. 2551) or the SLAC Fire Marshal (Ext. 4509). 



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Last update Wednesday August 18, 2004 by Emily Ball