Teaching your child the right way to summon emergency services could mean the difference between saving a life and losing one. While you hope your young child never has to dial 911 or assist in an emergency, they should understand what to do in an urgent situation. These are simple lessons that will remain with them for a lifetime. 

Explain the Purpose of 911

Speak to your child about how 911 is meant to help people in the community that are hurt or in danger, involving firefighters, police, and healthcare providers. Discuss how the 911 operator wants to help by sending the right people to provide immediate assistance. 

Define What an Emergency Is and Is Not

Not everyone is clear, even some adults, about when it is appropriate to call 911. Now is the time to brush up on those guidelines and go over them with your child. 

For example, things that would be considered an emergency are a person who is passed out and won’t wake up, a fire, or an unwanted stranger in your home. Explain to your child that these are things that rarely if ever, happen, but that help is available if they do. 

Not everything is an emergency, even situations that seem scary or are alarming to your child. Some examples of things that are not appropriate for a 911 call are cuts and scrapes and lost pets. If in doubt, your child should ask an available adult for guidance.

Also, explain that calling 911 for non-emergency matters might get them in trouble and can take resources away from people that need them. 

Practice Dialing 911

Once you’ve established the ground rules, explain to your child how to dial 911. Avoid calling it “Nine Eleven” since there is no number “11” on the phone pad. Have your child learn your address in case they are calling from a mobile phone. 

Do a practice run by either unplugging your house phone or turning off your mobile phone. Use a few different scenarios while pretending to be the emergency services operator on the other end of the line. Ask your child some questions, such as their address and a description of the situation. Give them a few instructions to follow, such as not hanging up the phone. 

Set Them Up for Success

Your child may never need to dial 911, but make it as simple as possible for them if they do. Place a card next to your phone or in an easy-to-find place. List “9-1-1” at the top in case they forget while under stress. Also, include your address, name, and any emergency contact numbers so that they don’t have to search for these while on the phone with an operator. 

MedTrust is a South Carolina-based mobile healthcare provider that is also the state’s fastest-growing company. We are focused on serving hospital systems throughout the Southeast with the goal of improving patient outcomes through excellence in healthcare. Contact us to learn more about our 24/7 365-day ambulance services or to find out how you can become a member of our team.