What Happens When You Dial 9-1-1 in Sun Lakes?

Brian Curry

When you pick up the phone to call 9-1-1 to request either police, a fire department response, or an ambulance for emergency medical care, do you know where your call goes?

Wherever you are located, every 9-1-1 call first gets routed to the appropriate police agency which, in the Sun Lakes Community, is Maricopa County Sheriff Office (MCSO). The MCSO dispatcher will ask you questions regarding the emergency, confirm your location, and then send the closest MCSO patrol car for a police response or contact the Phoenix Fire Department Regional Dispatch Center (PFRDC) to dispatch the closest Arizona Fire & Medical Authority (AFMA) units in Sun Lakes. When the call is transferred to the PFRDC, the dispatchers will again confirm your location and ask questions regarding the emergency. The PFRDC dispatchers are certified Emergency Medical Dispatchers that will give instructions to you if any lifesaving interventions can be made, like CPR, prior to the AFMA units arriving.

The Phoenix Regional Dispatch Center dispatches for 28 different agencies in the greater Phoenix Metro, so it is important to know that they need specific information before they will start dispatching fire trucks or ambulances, which starts with the location of the emergency. One can imagine the confusion if a caller gave information that they were in Sun City and were actually in Sun Lakes. The PFRDC takes steps to prevent this, which is why address and location questions are verified.

Historically, before cell phones, 9-1-1 calls have come from landline phones which are tied to a specific address. Now 90% of calls come from cellular phones, and getting the exact location becomes more challenging.

One of the great things about Sun Lakes is the many outdoor and indoor activities right in the community that we use, including, but not limited to the pools, tennis courts, pickleball courts, ballrooms, and golf courses.

But when an emergency call is placed from outside your residence, there is a need for address confirmation with the most exact details of your location available to you.

If your emergency is at one of these (or any other) outdoor locations, give the most information you can. If at a pool (most communities have more than one), which one are you at? Same thing with tennis or pickleball courts.

If your emergency is at a golf course, which one are you at and which hole are you closest to? Be aware of your surroundings. If an emergency should occur, first look for the address information at the clubhouse, on your scorecard, or the posted signs along the course for address information. Whenever possible, a member of your party should be sent to the nearest roadway to “flag down” the responding AFMA medical units.

Another question is, can your cell phone call be triangulated? The answer is yes, but your phone has to be updated with the latest firmware for accuracy. AFMA recommends that, whenever prompted, you update your cell phone.