Emergency Services

Emergency services refers to professional help you might call in the event of a car crash or other unsafe road conditions. That includes law enforcement, an ambulance service, the fire department, or roadside assistance such as a tow truck.

What is emergency services dispatch?

Dispatch is a procedure for sending out emergency services in a timely way. The goal of the system is pretty simple: Get a problem resolved quickly, with as little confusion as possible.

There are two types of emergency services dispatch. 

One type dispatches assistance for emergency situations involving people. An example would be when you call 911 and speak with a public safety dispatcher. The dispatcher is the first point of contact for these emergency calls, so they get some info about your car accident and then assign the appropriate public safety department or first responders—like the police department, fire department, or emergency medical services (EMS). 

The second type of emergency services dispatch is roadside assistance for incidents involving things other than humans: a car or truck that may have been smashed up, or utility poles or other stuff that may have been damaged in a crash (and could pose a hazard to other drivers if it’s not taken care of). Roadside dispatch will ask you where you are, what the problem is, and remain on the phone while they arrange a dispatch from a reliable tow operator or locksmith to provide help. 

Which type of emergency services do you need? 

If you feel you are in an unsafe location, definitely go ahead and dial 911. A good rule of thumb for determining which emergency dispatch you need is to consider the injury or potential hazard to others. While something may seem like an emergency to you, public safety agencies aren’t set up to cover every single scenario. Most of the time you’d call your insurer’s dispatch center for emergency services, it ends up being of a non-emergency nature.

What happens when you call an emergency services dispatcher? 

If you’re calling an emergency communications center manned by your insurer or another third party, the dispatcher will first determine if your call should be routed to a true emergency number. A computer aided dispatch center might ask a few simple questions before transferring you to a human. If necessary, they’ll transfer you to an emergency communications center that can send out first responders. 

If the nature of your emergency is something they cover, the call taker will ask more questions to determine the appropriate response—whether that’s a tow truck to tow your car to a local garage, roadside assistance to jump a dead battery, or non-emergency EMS help. Before dispatching help, they’ll get location details like your address or the last mile marker sign you passed on a highway. 

If you’ve got Lemonade car insurance, it’s even easier. The Lemonade app, with location services enabled, can intuitively sense if you’ve been in a likely crash, and will initiate appropriate response from our app and likely result in a phone call from our team making sure you and your passengers are okay. 

Please Note: These definitions don’t alter the terms, conditions, exclusions, or limitations of policies issued by Lemonade. They are intended for educational purposes only - they’re not meant to be used in lieu of professional legal or financial advice. We’ll do our best to keep them updated, but they may not always reflect current industry developments. Feel free to use the terms with attribution (friends don’t let friends plagiarize!)
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