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Public safety answering point

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Definition Edit

A public safety answering point (PSAP) is

a facility that has been designated to receive 9-1-1 calls and route them to emergency service personnel.[1]

Overview Edit

Most PSAPs are now capable of caller location for landline calls, and many can handle mobile phone locations as well (sometimes referred to as phase II location), where the mobile phone company has a handset location system. Some can also use voice broadcasting, where outgoing voicemail can be sent to many phone numbers at once, in order to alert people to a local emergency such as a chemical spill.

In the United States, the county or a large city usually handles this responsibility. As a division of a state, counties are generally bound to provide this and other emergency services even within the municipalities, unless the municipality chooses to opt out and have its own system, sometimes along with a neighboring jurisdiction. If a city operates its own PSAP, but not its own particular emergency service (for example, city police but county fire), it may be necessary to relay the call to the PSAP that does handle that type of call. The U.S. requires caller location capability on the part of all phone companies, including mobile ones, but there is no federal law requiring PSAPs to be able to receive such information.

There are roughly 6100 primary and secondary PSAPs in the U.S.[2] Personnel working for PSAPs can become voting members of the National Emergency Number Association (NENA). Emergency dispatchers working in PSAPs can become certified with the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch (NAED), and a PSAP can become an NAED Accredited Center of Excellence.

In other countries, this is the responsibility of other types of local government, and the particular setup of the telephone network dictates how such calls are handled.

References Edit

  1. 47 U.S.C. §615b(3).
  2. NENA Fast Facts.


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