A New Way of 911 Call Taking: Criteria Based Dispatching A Review of the Literature


As a movement across the country has begun demanding changes to policing and public safety, the need to revisit 911 call-taking and dispatching methods has become urgent. The scope of 911 has expanded and technological infrastructure has evolved, but there have been few advances in the call-taking and dispatching aspects of the system over the last 52 years. Modernization is needed if 911 is to provide fully effective service.

Criteria Based Dispatching (CBD) is an alternative approach to traditional 911 triage that has revolutionized the call-taking process for medical and fire calls. Instead of the call-taker collecting as much information as possible on the event that prompted the 911 call, CBD focuses on asking specific “here and now” questions to determine the necessary level of care and the urgency of the need. This review of the literature on CBD frames how this approach could also lead to improvements in policing.