If there's an emergency, 911 has your back

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - 911 dispatch in Rapid City answers more than 60,000 emergency calls a year with a majority coming in during the winter and summer months. As people plan more outdoor activities with warmer weather, it's important to prepare for potential emergencies.

If it's a fire, car accident, medical issue, or any other emergency the number to call is 911.

"We never know what we're going to hear when we answer the phone, but we are very thankful that we get to help the public every day," says Donna Sordell, shift supervisor with 911 dispatch.

If you're out exploring the Black Hills or just driving down the road when you get into an accident you're most likely going to call from your cell phone, and when you do people at the 911 dispatch will be there to help.

The first question they ask is where first responders need to go.
If you don't know where you are your cell phone can help.

"Basically when you call 911 from a cell phone we get the coordinates of where you're at and that comes from your cell phone. So if we need to we can plot those coordinates to a map and see right on the map where you're at," says Ted Rufledt, deputy director of technology with 911 Dispatch.

This can be useful if the person calling is unfamiliar with the area they're in or if they're out in the hills, but it only works if you have a signal.

"If you're down in the middle of a valley or a ravine or in a cave somewhere you probably don't have very good cell reception so you may not be able to call 911 in that situation," Rufledt says.

If you do find yourself in a situation where you are stranded or hurt and don't have a signal, Rufledt says it's important to have a plan.
Tell friends and family where you're going and what time you plan to return, ask anyone around you for help, or try getting to higher ground to get a signal if possible.