911 Dispatch Center

General Tip Suggestions

What to do when you call "9-1-1":

  • Listen to the dispatcher and answer all questions.
  • Speak clearly and calmly. Do not hang up until the dispatcher says it is okay to hang up.
  • If you are reporting an emergency from your vehicle, be prepared to give road, street and address information. If possible, find out what the nearest cross streets are - or give information about prominent landmarks or buildings.
  • If you are reporting a reckless or intoxicated driver, give the direction of travel, approximate speed and the last location where the driver was seen. Describe the car and driver if possible. If you can, get the license number.
  • If you are reporting an accident, you will be asked if there are injuries. Are lanes of traffic blocked? How many vehicles are involved? If you can determine if people are trapped or if dangerous substances are involved that information will be helpful, also.
  • If you report a fire, tell the dispatcher what is on fire, exactly where it is and if it seems to be spreading. If you can stay on the scene to direct firefighters to a fire that is not easily seen from the road, you would have provided a great service.
  • Reporting crimes in progress can be dangerous - so be careful. Do not take any unnecessary chances.
  • If you can safely determine what kind of crime is in progress and if there are any weapons involved, tell the dispatcher.
  • If there are any injuries, report that so medical personnel can be notified as well.

Tips when Calling from a Mobile/Cellular Telephone

When calling from a cellular telephone, it is recommended you stop the vehicle on the side of the road before dialing! Remember that the dispatchers will not necessarily know where you are right away - so it is very important to let the dispatcher know exactly where the emergency is located. You should be prepared to provide your direction of travel, the street name you are on, and/or physical landmarks such as buildings or major intersections. You can report traffic accidents, reckless or intoxicated drivers, medical emergencies, vehicle or building fires, drivers in distress or broken down, or any crime in progress that you may witness.

Tips for Addressing your House or Business

Often emergency personnel cannot locate houses and businesses because addresses are not clearly marked. Make sure your address is clearly visible from the street and that you are using the address issued by the County or Municipal addressing offices. The address issued to you by the responsible agency in your area will be the address submitted to the telephone company for your telephone service or new service request. That address will be what appears on the computer screen when you place a "9-1-1" call. If that address differs from what is posted on the house, it could cause a delay in the emergency personnel locating your house or business.

About 911 Dispatch


By law, 911 Centers Must Comply with a Variety Of Mandated Rules & Regulations.


Here’s Just a Few to Think on:

  • Must provide “enhanced 911 service.”  In other words, the 911 call is routed to the appropriate dispatch center, an automatic number identification is provided (displays the callers 7-digit phone number) and location identification (ability to display latitude and longitude of the callers location);

  • Sufficient lines must be provided to ensure that there is no more than one busy signal per 100 calls;

  • Must provide electronic recording of all 911 calls, which must be kept a minimum of 60 days;

  • Must have the capability to immediately play back 911 calls;

  • Must provide adequate physical security of the 911 dispatch center;

  • Must have emergency power to operate during power failures;

  • Must have written operational procedures;

  • Must have a minimum of one Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD);

  • Must have the capability to answer 80% of calls within 10 seconds;

  • Must have contingency plans for rerouting or relocation in the event of a disaster or equipment failure;

  • Must have the capability to have cellular phones routed to 911;

  • Dispatchers must be trained and certified by the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy;

  • All 911 lines must have both audio and light indicators on incoming calls.


The Beaufort County Dispatch Center has many of its own internal policies, rules and regulations.  We are very stringent with our guidelines; after all, we are in the business of saving lives.  Dispatching can be a very fulfilling career.  Knowing that you made a difference, helped save a life, or calmly walked someone through a crisis situation can be very rewarding,  and stressful!  Yes, being a Dispatcher can be extremely stressful at times!  We must deal with people verbally in high stress situations and sometimes life or death situations.  Dispatchers must be able to remain calm to do their jobs. 

Dispatchers must have a clear, distinct speaking voice and have good hearing in both ears. They must be able to follow complex oral and / or written instructions, and have good typing skills.  The Beaufort County Dispatch Center works on 12-hour shifts, with 48 full-time dispatcher positions.

During hurricane operations, or other catastrophic events, our dispatchers must be able to remain at the Center around the clock if necessary.  Since 1989, we activated the Center several times for hurricane operations, requiring a few overnight stays.

Computers – They’re Everywhere!

Each of our dispatchers have multiple computers and must work a minimum of six monitors at a time. One monitor shows incoming 911 calls, the location of the caller, and the physical address of the caller.  A second monitor displays a Computer Aided Dispatch system (CAD), which logs all calls.  The system is able to keep up with responders' statuses, it recommends available units to send to the call, and it even reminds the dispatcher of pending or overdue calls.  The third monitor displays a mapping system of Beaufort County and runs a recording device.  When a 911 call comes in, the mapping computer pinpoints the caller’s location.  The dispatcher is able to give directions to the callers location based on this enhanced mapping system. The additional monitors assists with other services as well. 

Geographically, Beaufort County is surrounded by hundreds of small islands and a lot of water. Our center receives a significant number of emergency calls from boaters in distress throughout the year.  One of the newer capabilities of cell phone technology allows us to receive longitude/latitude information from cell phones, which in turn gives us the ability to send rescue units out into rivers, marshes or even the ocean to assist citizens.  This only works with the newer models of cell phones, however.  You may want to check with your cell phone company to confirm that your cell phone has this capability.


(SLED) South Carolina Law Enforcement Division

One of the agencies that plays an essential role in our day-to-day operations is SLED.  They participate in the Nationwide Law Enforcement Network and exchange law enforcement information with all 50 states, the FBI, the U.S. Postal Service, the Department of Justice, the Office of Personnel Management, the U.S. Virgin Islands, etc.  SLED maintains all criminal history information for the South Carolina and maintains all relays to all states and Canada for criminal history checks for all other states.

SLED also maintains all Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) files for South Carolina and maintains all the relays to all states and Canada for their DMV files.

SLED allows access to the FBI files for criminal histories, wanted persons, missing persons, unidentified persons, stolen vehicles, parts and license plates, stolen guns, stolen securities, stolen articles, stolen boats, felony vehicles, protection orders, violent gang and terrorist organization files, fraudulent check identifications and sex offenders. Through these databases, Law Enforcement officers (this includes Dispatch Centers) may make inquiries to these files whenever warranted.


Public Education

The BCSO Communications Section is very proactive in their efforts to educate residents, school kids, visitors, etc. regarding the proper use of 9-1-1, and how to obtain help during emergencies.  We are always looking for opportunities to speak at schools, job fairs, community events, etc.  If you would like for us to speak at an event, give us a call (843-255-4019). We will be happy to accommodate you.


911 Services For Local Military Establishments

The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office Communications Section also works closely with the three local military establishments (the Marine Corps Air Station, Parris Island Recruit Depot, and the Naval Hospital). There are automatic aid agreements in place for fire service with the Naval Hospital upon request; and EMS services with the Air Station and Laurel Bay.

As a matter of fact, the County’s Emergency Management Division (the Communications Section being inclusive), frequently takes part in joint training and exercises with all three bases. 

911 Training and Education​

Training our Communications Staff 

Our Communications staff must undergo months of considerable training prior to actually answering any 911 calls.  The majority of this is on-the-job training taught by Training Officers and Supervisors. More extensive training is also required, including the following:

  • Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) Training

All of our Communications  personnel are required to be EMD (Emergency Medical Dispatch) certified. This means they complete a 40-hour class, which teaches them how to give certain medical instructions over the telephone prior to the arrival of emergency services. For example, an EMD-trained dispatcher can give CPR instructions to a caller over the telephone in an effort to save the life of a victim.

  • NCIC (National Crime Information Center) Training

This is a mandatory 40-hour training course that all Dispatchers must attend. NCIC is a nationally computerized system controlled by the FBI, wherein law enforcement agencies may enter items such as stolen property, missing persons, etc.  They may also conduct inquiries from the system, allowing them to check for warrants on persons, run driver’s license checks and vehicle tag checks, etc.  The course teaches dispatchers the proper way to work this very detailed computer system.

  • Basis Telecommunications Officer Training Program (BTOT)

This is a 80-hour, state-mandated course taught at the Criminal Justice Academy in Columbia, S.C.  This course teaches the dispatcher skills in handling emergency telephone calls as well as the proper utilization of radios in communicating with emergency service agencies.

  • CTO (Communications Training Officer) Course

This is a class that teaches all aspects of training dispatchers. Personnel take this course either in a six week internet-based class or in a one week classroom setting. 

  • Communications Center Supervisor Course

This is an internet-based course for dispatch supervisors. The course teaches them the basic supervisory skills in the area of communications, and it usually takes about six weeks to complete.

  • Continuing Education

Dispatchers and dispatch supervisors also take a variety of other seminars and online courses that become available throughout the year.

Tips to Remember when Calling 911

Tips to remember When Calling “9-1-1” for Emergency Assistance Although these tips are general, they are meant to apply to calls from citizens within the boundaries of Beaufort County who call "9-1-1" for emergency assistance.

Beaufort County Sheriff's Office

2001 Duke St

Beaufort, South Carolina 29902

Email: BCSOWebsite@bcgov.net 

Phone: 843-255-3200

© 2018 by Beaufort County Sheriff's Office