911 PSAPs: A Look Into the First Responders Behind Emergency Response

Posted in All, NGA911 on Mar 22, 2023

Every day, over a half a million of people across the United States dial 911 when an emergency strikes. But most may not think about who answers the call or what happens after they hang up. Behind every emergency call is a team of dedicated professionals who ensure that help arrives quickly. This team includes public safety answering points (PSAPs), dispatchers, and first responders who work together to provide life-saving assistance in times of need. 

In this blog from NGA, we’ll discuss 9-1-1 PSAPs, the roles of dispatchers and first responders, and their impacts on public safety. 

Table of Contents:

  1. What Are 9-1-1 PSAPs Exactly? 
  2. What Do 9-1-1 PSAPs Do? 
  3. Understanding the Role of First Responders 
  4. Training for 9-1-1 Professionals and Its Importance 
  5. The Impact of Technology on Emergency Response 
  6. The Tools That Aid PSAP Dispatchers 
  7. Conclusion 

People Also Ask:

What is a 9-1-1 PSAP?

A PSAP is defined as a Public Safety Answering Point. A PSAP is an emergency response agency or organization where 9-1-1 calls are received and routed directly from the 9-1-1 control center. 

A secondary PSAP is an organization that transfers emergency calls from a primary public safety answering point. 

What is a PSAP system?

Public Safety Answering Points, or PSAPs, are the agencies responsible for receiving emergency calls and processing those 9-1-1 calls to a specific operating organization. 

What Are 9-1-1 PSAPs Exactly? 

Public safety answering points are the first line of defense when responding to 9-1-1 calls. These centers are staffed by specially trained dispatchers who answer incoming calls, gather information from the callers, data collection, and dispatch appropriate resources such as police officers, firefighters, and paramedics. 

In addition to taking calls, PSAPs function as command centers during large-scale emergencies such as natural disasters or terrorist attacks. They coordinate efforts between multiple agencies and jurisdictions during these events to ensure an efficient response time. They are responsible for accurately assessing the situation and providing necessary instructions to emergency callers while maintaining composure under pressure. 

What Do 9-1-1 PSAPs Do? 

In 9-1-1 PSAPs, the emergency dispatchers are the voices on the other end of the phone when someone calls 9-1-1 for help. They collect vital information from callers, such as location, type of incident, and any details that can assist first responders in responding quickly to an emergency. 

These public safety professionals may also assist callers before first responders arrive on the scene. For example, if someone is trapped in a burning building, PSAP operators can advise them on ways to stay safe until firefighters arrive. 


The job requires quick thinking, and PSAP operators must be able to quickly assess a situation and relay important information to first responders while remaining calm and composed throughout the process. They also need exceptional communication skills as they must communicate instructions to callers while providing vital information to first responders. 

Understanding the Role of First Responders 

Once PSAP dispatchers have vetted an emergency call and dispatched appropriate personnel, first responders enter the picture. These first responders include police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and paramedics. 

The job of a first responder is often dangerous as they must be prepared for any situation they may encounter upon arrival on the scene or during the transport of injured persons from one location to another. They must also maintain a level head while remaining vigilant throughout each incident they respond to keep themselves safe while providing aid whenever necessary.

Training for 9-1-1 Professionals and its Importance 

Due to the immediacy of emergencies, it is essential that all 9-1-1 professionals, including 9-1-1 PSAP personnel, receive comprehensive training. Why? Because public safety answering point dispatchers are the first 9-1-1 professionals to address emergencies. 

These public safety professionals must be trained and continue to undergo training to stay ahead of changes and updates in technology, regulations, laws, and policies related to their job duties. They must also keep up-to-date with communication protocols designed to ensure fast response times during emergencies. 

Comprehensive training also helps them learn how to handle stressful situations that may arise while taking emergency calls, such as emotional callers or multiple calls at once, calmly and professionally so they can continue providing quick service even when faced with unexpected obstacles.  

The Impact of Technology on Emergency Response 

Technology has played an increasingly important role in emergency response over the past few years due to its ability to reduce response times by streamlining communication between PSAPs and first responders. One of these technologies is NG911, otherwise known as Next Generation 911

Advances like NG911 have allowed PSAP dispatchers to receive voice, text, video, photos and exact locations information of incoming emergency calls. Eliminating much of the guesswork with locating victims in distress or sending help where it is needed most quickly. Aiding in on-scene first responders with their safety, situational awareness, and better equipped foreward thinking with seconds and minutes matter. 

The Tools that aid PSAP Dispatchers 

Next Generation 911 technology has been instrumental in improving both call management processes and public safety operations overall. For example, Next NG911 systems allow for streamlined multi-media sharing to be sent directly from citizens via smartphones or other devices into dispatch centers

Example of this multi-media information includes:

  • Text messages
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Voice recordings 
  • Voice-to-text messages 

This digital data sharing enables dispatchers to provide more accurate instructions based on real-time information from witnesses at the scene or even victims. Advanced mapping systems have also allowed dispatchers to assess situations better to send help faster than ever before. 


It is truly remarkable how much trust we put into our first responders each day—and for a good reason! By answering incoming calls for help and dispatching resources accordingly when necessary, 9-1-1 PSAPs play an integral part in society's public safety system. These heroes have trained extensively to ensure that their actions during emergencies result in positive outcomes for those affected, no matter how big or small the situation might be. 

Would you like to know more? 

Connect with our NG911 providers and experts at NGA today!