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What Kids Think About 9-1-1: A Fifth Grader's Perspective

Author: Kelsey Joy Larson and Brenna M. Moloney

Copyright: 9-1-1 Magazine, Feature Content

Date: 2012-06-25
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Originally Published in our Nov/Dec 1999 issue.


We all know that 9-1-1 is something that all kids, like us, should know about. But are the kids really interested? How can we help them become interested? Do they know everything they really should? What do they want to know? What’s the best way for them to learn?  This interview, taken from a fifth-grader’s point of view, should answer those questions.

First we asked our fifth-grade classmates what they knew about 9-1-1. Most of them knew that 9-1-1 was the number you dial only for emergencies.

“I know that 9-1-1 is for emergencies,” said our friend Jenny.

Another friend, Brad, told us that “People call 9-1-1 for medical, fire, and other emergencies or problems. When you call, the dispatcher hooks you up with the right person - fire, police, medical, etc. When you are done talking, you aren’t supposed to hang up because the dispatcher may need to give or receive more information.”

We can tell from these two answers that kids pretty much know the basics of calling 9-1-1. But is that all they really need to know?

Next we asked our classmates what they wanted to know about 9-1-1.

“What is it like to be a policeman?” was a common reply.

“Opposed to a different number, why is the number 9-1-1 used as the number to call?” asked Jenny, as well as our other friend, Alex.

Then we asked them how they prefer to learn the answers to their questions.

“I would like to take a field trip to a police station or a fire station,” said Brittany, as well as many others. Another friend remarked, “I would like a policeman to visit our school.”

Only one person we have interviewed has experienced a real emergency. When he was a baby, he had a severe asthma attack, and had to be taken to the emergency room because he couldn’t breathe.

No one we questioned has had to call 9-1-1 themselves.

Many people commented on 9-1-1 being a good idea.

“I think 3-1-1 is a good idea, so that the emergency lines aren’t clogged up with non-emergency callers,” commented one friend.

Here are the results of our interview:

Most of our classmates know about 9-1-1 being the number to call in an emergency. They would like to know more about the specifics of the 9-1-1 system - why the number is 9-1-1, what the life of a person connected to the 9-1-1 industry is like, and some other interesting facts. We can tell from the replies we received from our classmates that most kids would like to learn from hands-on experience.  Most kids in our 5th Grade class would rather have a police officer, fire fighter, or dispatcher tell them about 9-1-1 rather.

In 1999, both Kelsey J. Larson and Brenna M. Moloney were 10-year olds attending fifth grade in San Jose, California.


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