Baltimore County Now
Jason Bivens, Assistant Chief
Baltimore County 9-1-1 Center
Ever call 9-1-1 in an emergency and wonder why the call taker asks so many questions? You can rest assured that answering questions does NOT delay your help. The dispatcher is generally already sending help while your call taker gets additional information from you. Baltimore County 9-1-1 call takers are trained to ask questions that will help you get the assistance you need as quickly as possible.
Here’s some background on how the 9-1-1 Center works and some important tips to help us help you as quickly as possible.
It is important to stay on the line until you receive instructions to hang up.
When you call for assistance, remember to dial the most appropriate number based on what you are reporting:
EMERGENCY: Dial 9-1-1
Non-Emergency: Dial 410-887-2222
When you call, we will verify your address or location, get your contact number, and ask some initial questions to determine the nature of the incident and what equipment and emergency response is needed to best help the situation.
AFTER sending your information to the appropriate dispatcher we will ask several additional questions to get more specific details for responding units and we will provide important instructions to you prior to their arrival. Our highly trained call takers provide potentially life-saving instructions like how to perform CPR, control bleeding, deliver a baby or do whatever the situation demands until help arrives. If you are in danger, you may be instructed to leave the building, secure yourself in a room, or take other protective actions.
While you might not understand why we ask certain questions, or it may seem trivial to you, know that they are for your safety and that of the responders coming to assist you. Please try to keep your answers focused on the question and as brief as you can; we will ask more questions if needed.
Don’t guess or assume answers – if you really don’t know, then tell us that.
Don’t withhold information – if you know who a suspect is but you don’t want to say, you could be seriously jeopardizing the safety of an officer.
Call volume in the 9-1-1 Communications Center fluctuates through the day. At any time, we can receive numerous high-priority calls, or perhaps several calls regarding a single incident. This may mean you receive a recorded message. Please, DO NOT hang up! Your call will be answered by the next available call taker.
If you mistakenly dial 9-1-1, please do not hang up before the 9-1-1 call taker answers the phone. The information from your phone still enters our system, and if you aren’t on the phone when the call taker answers, our policy is to send an officer to your location to ensure that you are safe. If you change your mind about needing assistance, stay on the line and explain that to the 9-1-1 call taker. The time spent calling people back who have inadvertently dialed 9-1-1 takes time away from people who need emergency help.
Here are some basic tips for calling 9-1-1. Reading these now may help you if an actual emergency occurs:
1. Stay calm. Speak clearly. Emergency units (police, fire or ambulance) rely on the information you give to get to you as soon as possible and to be able to help you.
2. Give your address or location and phone number. Your address or location is vital information, and we cannot send help if we don’t know where you are.
3. Quickly and briefly describe your problem. As soon as we know what you need, we will know who to send to help you (police car, ambulance or fire truck). Get to the point as soon as possible.
4. Describe yourself and/or the suspect. Tell the 9-1-1 call taker where you are and what you look like, including what you are wearing. We want officers who are arriving on the scene to know who they can contact and that you are not a potential suspect. In appropriate situations you will be asked to describe the suspect including race and age. These questions are not a determinant of whether or not a police officer will be sent but rather to provide the police officer information on what the suspect looks like.
5. Listen to the 9-1-1 call taker. Answer their questions and follow any instructions. Remain on the line until the 9-1-1 call taker says it is okay for you to hang up.
6. Remember: Answering questions does NOT delay your help. At times the dispatcher is sending units while your calltaker gets additional information from you.
YOUR safety is our number one concern.
Bureau of Highways, Department of Public Works
We’re really getting our share of snow this year with 17 official storms so far, (from Deon to Hercules to Pax to Titan!) – and we got our share of potholes too! The intermittent snow-melt, combined with freezing temperatures, damaged road surfaces and caused traffic headaches across the County. And Baltimore County’s Department of Public Works (Bureau of Highways) has been, is, and will be prepared to tackle the problem. In fact, Crews from eleven highway shops work throughout the year filling potholes. We’ve got equipment operators and laborers always on the lookout for potholes, and they schedule repairs as quickly as possible.
Because of our hard winter 2013 - 2014, (which began with a surprise snow on December 8) the number of potholes is certain to spike this spring. Freezing and thawing (plus a lot of water) is a recipe for road damage, and every winter the Bureau of Highways fills about 50,000 potholes on average. As a rule of thumb, the harder the winter, the more potholes need to be filled. For instance, during the winter of 2010 (you remember Snowmageddon?), potholes increased almost 20 percent. It probably won’t be that bad this year, but it’s sure to go up. We’ve already booked 7,374 potholes this January and about 7,500 in February.
While the weather is still cold, and there’s still a chance of freezing, crews will fill holes with a cold mix and then return in better weather for a permanent, hot mix fix. The hot mix isn’t usually available from the plant until mid-March although some crews have done a limited amount of milling and patching with the hot mix already.
Potholes are a road’s number one enemy and taking care of potholes is the “default setting” for Baltimore County’s Bureau of Highways. Whenever crews aren’t pushing snow or taking care of downed trees, they’re on the next pothole. So, when you see a pothole, report it. Call 410 887-3560 and be sure to give the location – a street address or a cross street is enough – and we will get it fixed as soon as possible.
Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks
Surely you know that Baltimore County parks are among the coolest places in the county…But did you know that in the winter, these cold and often snow-covered havens of nature-at-its-best are even “cooler”?
If you are thinking parks are closed in the winter, oh boy, do we have some great news for you…We’re open for business with lots to keep you exercising your body and mind, and having lots of fun!
Over at Robert E. Lee Park, in addition to some spectacular sightings of beaver, otter, bald eagles and migrating waterfowl, the park has some exceptional programming: School’s Out Days, Parents’ Night Out, Friday Strolls, Cherry Pie Hikes and the Bird Extravaganza. For more information on these programs you can call 410-887-4156. www.roberteleepark.org
This winter, just how bold (and immune to cold!) are you? Marshy Point Nature Center is sponsoring the 8th Annual Popsicle Plunge. On Saturday, March 1st, it is your chance to get cold and wet for a great cause as you jump into the water off Rocky Point Park’s beach. All funds raised will go to the Marshy Point Nature Center’s many activities and programs; including winter-time programs like our Speaker Series (“Save the Bees” on February 18th); Maple Sugar Time (February 15 and 16); and “Fly Tying” workshop on February 22 and 23. For information on the Popsicle Plunge and all the winter-time programs, call 410-887-2817. http://www.marshypoint.org
Cromwell Valley Park has programs for all this winter - inside and outside, families and individuals, and for kids of all ages. A sweet favorite is “Maple Sugaring” where you can learn to tap a tree and make maple syrup. “Project Feeder Watch” is a project that will offer important scientific information – and it needs your help! And, how’s this for an intriguing Adult evening out, “Night Out With Nature: Iceman’s Last Hours”. So much to do, so little space to share it all. For information on these and many more Cromwell Valley Park programs, call 410-887-2503. www.cromwellvalleypark.org
Oregon Ridge Nature Center is offering some hot times this winter including their delicious (and for a great cause) hot cake breakfast. This is just a part of the ORNC winter offerings, there’s also: Maple Sugaring, Habitats, Reptiles and Amphibians, and Arthropods on this winter’s schedule. We’re loving this one: “Sugar and Your Sweetheart Night Hike” on Valentine’s Day – let your imagination flow! And for the adult nature lover: “Trail Guide Training” will be taking place in early February to give those special folks with an inclination towards the out-of-doors the chance to learn and lead. This is all great stuff! To learn more, you can call 410-887-1815. www.oregonridgenaturecenter.org.
They do winter a bit differently at the Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum and here “different” means, pretty cool stuff! Set your sights on some great historical workshops like “Honoring African American Firsts in Baltimore County” and “Meet Molly: Ben’s Amazing Grandmother” and “Ben’s Nature Journal”. Of course, what’s a park without great outdoor/nature themes and workshops – moss, turtles, raptors, frogs - just so much going on at Banneker, you’ve got to get in touch with them to see their incredible winter line-up. 410-887-1081. www.BenjaminBanneker.wordpress.com.
Did you know that Nature Quest, the trek through the trails of Benjamin Banneker, Cromwell Valley, Marshy Point, Oregon Ridge and Robert E. Lee Parks continues year ‘round? It is a great chance to see some beautiful trails, find trail markers and earn prizes –spring, summer, fall AND winter. You can ask a ranger for a Nature Quest Booklet. If you complete at least five trails, you will have earned admission to Nature Quest Fest! For more information, call 410-887-4156; or the Therapeutic Office at 410-887-5370. NatureQuest
So, what are you waiting for? Come on out to our parks this winter - it is still lots of fun, interesting and yes, really cool!