Pasadena has an enhanced 9-1-1 system, called "Verdugo Dispatch". This means that the 9-1-1 operator (referred to as the "dispatcher") can identify through the system's computer, the phone number and address of the calling party. This assists in timely dispatching of police or fire units to the emergency scene. Common fire emergencies include structure fires, brush fires, automobile accidents with injuries and smoke. Common medical emergencies include heart attack, respiratory difficulty, seizures and diabetic patients. When a call is received by the 9-1-1 , they will say, "What is your emergency, police, fire or medical?" The caller should tell the dispatcher which type of emergency they are reporting or give a description of the problem, allowing the dispatcher to decide how to route the call. In Pasadena, the 9-1-1 operator is actually a police dispatcher assigned to process in-coming emergency calls. If it is a police matter, they will stay on the line and take information. If it is a fire or medical emergency, they will tell the caller to stay on the line and will transfer the call to the fire department. The phone line will ring again. The fire department dispatcher will come on the line and ask the caller if there is a fire or medical emergency. A proper address and phone number will be asked for to verify the 9-1-1 information. The dispatcher will begin to dispatch emergency units immediately. If it is a medical emergency, the dispatcher then will transfer the caller to the medic dispatcher sitting nearby. The medic dispatcher is specially trained for medical emergencies to provide self-help instructions to the caller. Pasadena Fire Department fire engines, ladder trucks and ambulances are dispatched according to the nature of the call. The closest unit will be sent to ensure that help arrives as soon as possible. It also means that more than one fire unit may be sent to the scene. All Pasadena Fire Department Personnel receive medical training and, at a minimum, are EMT's (Emergency Medical Technicians). Certain firefighters receive additional training as paramedics. They are capable of providing advanced life-support treatment including IVs, drug therapy and cardiac monitoring. Currently, paramedics are assigned to the engine companies, and rescue ambulances. Whenever a person calls 9-1-1, their message needs to be clear. They also need to stay on the phone until the person in the alarm room has released them from the conversation. Try to stay calm. State what kind of emergency it is - fire, car accident, heart attack, etc., then tell the dispatcher where the incident is. Stay on the phone. The dispatcher may ask more questions or want you to stay on the line. Emergency units already have been dispatched even while you are talking with the dispatcher. Children should be taught their home address and telephone number as soon as possible. In most cases, when a caller dials 9-1-1, the address and phone number of the caller's location is displayed to the 9-1-1 dispatcher. However, this is not always verified because of information that may be called in from cellular or mobile phones.
When the fire department responds to a given location, it may be delayed in arriving if the address is not clearly seen from the street. Although it's fairly easy to spot a column of smoke from a house fire, it's difficult to see someone's heart attack from the street. In a medical emergency, firefighters may waste critical time having to knock on several doors to try and find a correct address. Make sure your address is clearly visible from the street. The numbers should be three or four inches in height and be reflective. This problem is compounded in large condominium and apartment complexes. Arriving at a correct address, the engine company finds a huge residential facility with many buildings in the complex. Make sure large identification lettering or numbering is mounted on the side of the building. This is as important as the street address. It would be even better if someone could be standing near the street to direct the fire units to the appropriate apartment.
Code 3 means emergency response in an emergency vehicle. When an emergency vehicle is driving with its lights flashing and the siren going, that means it's going Code 3 to an emergency somewhere. Someone needs help quickly. When an emergency vehicle is heard and/or seen, drivers should carefully pull their vehicle to the right of the road and stop. If they are at an intersection, or stopped in traffic when they see lights or hear a siren, drivers should remain stopped and wait until the emergency vehicles have passed. Do not make quick or erratic maneuvers. The law is very specific; drivers must yield the right-of-way to an emergency vehicle. Drivers also should stay 300 feet behind emergency vehicles. A crash involving an emergency vehicle delays help to those who need it. Firefighters are careful to avoid vehicle collisions by driving slowly when traveling against traffic, or coming to a complete stop at intersections. The cooperation of all vehicles on the roadway is required. Be careful when driving by or around a motor vehicle accident or any situation where emergency vehicles are parked and the firefighters are working. Resist the impulse to "rubber-neck." This can cause additional collisions. Even though fire apparatus are placed to protect firefighters, tragically, sometimes emergency crews have been hit and killed by passing vehicles.