When an emergency comes up and you have to call emergency services for help, take a deep breath before talking. While call-takers spend 40+ hours a week talking with people who are having the worst days of their lives, there are certain things those callers can do make things go more smoothly.
1) Begin the call with answering the question asked. Normally, when I have to call, I'll say something like "This is Alemya13. I'm at 1234 Storage Drive. My aunt just got her arm caught in the garage door and we can't get the door open." Keep is short and sweet with the basic information. The call-taker will then ask you targeted questions as lain out by the script they have. The scripts are there to ensure the proper response. When the call starts, keep it short and sweet: Name, location (with address, if you have it) and the nature of the problem.
2) If you don't know the answer to a question, just say "I don't know." Don't make things up! That can confuse the response and may possibly delay it.
3) Don't offer information unless it's necessary. Explaining how your aunt's cousin's boyfriend's dog groomer's sister-in-law's poodle got loose three years ago and that's why your aunt was reaching under the garage door to get the poodle's collar isn't something emergency services needs to know. "My aunt was reaching under the partially open door and then we heard a snap and the door fell" is going to help them help your aunt.
4) Don't worry about being self-conscious. Call-takers have pretty much heard it all. No one's judging you. Call-takers know that you wouldn't be calling unless you have an emergency (and if you're one of those people who calls 911 / emergency services because McDonald's only gave you 19 chicken nuggets, shame on you. May you be cursed with eternally cold nuggets) and they just want to help you get the situation resolved.
5) FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS GIVEN. No, really. Read that again. Follow. The. Instructions. Given. These people are trained to help. I promise you. Call takers will not tell you to do something just for laughs. If they tell you to not put your head in the mouth of that yawning lion, please, for God's sake, step away from the damned cat. If they tell you not to run into the burning building, glue your feet to the asphalt. If they tell you not to pull that piece of rebar from your best friend's abdomen, don't do it and don't let anyone else do it. If you can't do something they ask you, find someone nearby who can.
6) Finally – understand that the call-takers are asking you the questions they are because they have to. There are certain pieces of information which are necessary for the call. Screaming or shouting at the call taker will only delay the response, even if it makes you feel better.
This PSA brought to you by the letters E, M, and S and the numbers 9, 1 and 1.