Skip to content
Iryna SydorchukMarch 20, 20244 min read

What is a PSAP (Public Safety Answering Point)?

Swift and efficient response can make all the difference in times of crisis and emergencies. Behind the scenes of emergency services, there exists a crucial element that serves as the initial point of contact for those in distress: Public Safety Answering Points, commonly known as PSAPs. But what exactly is a PSAP, and why are they so critical to public safety and emergency response? Let's delve into what PSAPs are, their significance in public safety, and their pivotal role in coordinating emergency responses.


What is a Public Safety Answering Point?

A Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) is a facility equipped and staffed to receive emergency calls from the public and dispatch appropriate resources to respond to those calls. Essentially, PSAPs serve as the first point of contact for individuals seeking emergency assistance, whether reporting a crime, a medical emergency, a fire, or any other urgent situation. PSAPs are staffed 24/7 by highly trained telecommunicators who are equipped to handle a wide range of emergencies.


Types of PSAPs

Several Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) types serve a specific function or jurisdiction. The main types of PSAPs include:


Primary PSAP:

  • Serves as the first point of contact for 911/112 calls within a specific geographic area.
  • Receives and processes emergency calls directly from the public.
  • Dispatches appropriate emergency services or transfers calls to the secondary PSAP or dispatch center.


Secondary PSAP:

  • Receives transferred 911/112 calls from a primary PSAP for further processing and dispatch.
  • Typically specializes in handling specific emergencies, such as law enforcement, fire, or medical services.
  • May provide more in-depth support or resources for the particular emergency type.


Consolidated PSAP:

  • Combines the functions of both primary and secondary PSAPs within a single facility.
  • Serves as a centralized hub for receiving, processing, and dispatching emergency calls for multiple agencies or jurisdictions.
  • Aims to improve efficiency, coordination, and resource sharing among participating agencies.


Networked PSAP:

  • Consists of multiple interconnected PSAPs that can share call handling and dispatching responsibilities.
  • Enables load balancing, backup, and mutual aid among the networked PSAPs.
  • Enhances resilience and continuity of operations during high call volumes or system failures.


Virtual PSAP:

  • Uses cloud-based or remote call handling technologies to distribute 911/112 calls across a network of dispersed call takers.
  • Allows dynamic scaling and flexibility in handling emergency calls, especially during peak periods or disasters.
  • Enables remote work or social distancing for PSAP personnel when needed.


Specialized PSAP:

  • Focuses on handling specific types of emergency calls or supporting particular user communities.
  • Examples include poison control centers, suicide prevention hotlines, or PSAPs dedicated to serving deaf, hard of hearing, or non-English speaking populations.
  • Provides specialized expertise, protocols, and resources tailored to the specific needs of the served community.


The Critical Role of PSAPs in Public Safety and Their Responsibilities 

PSAPs play an indispensable role in public safety and emergency response systems. They serve as the central hub through which all emergency communications flow. Without PSAPs, the coordination of emergency services would be fragmented, leading to delayed response times and potentially dire consequences for those in need. 

The responsibilities of PSAPs are multi-faceted and encompass various critical tasks:

  • Answering Emergency Calls: PSAP operators are trained to handle incoming emergency calls efficiently, gathering essential information such as the nature of the emergency, location details, and any other pertinent information needed to dispatch appropriate assistance.
  • Dispatching First Responders: Once the nature of the emergency is determined, PSAPs dispatch the necessary first responders, whether it's law enforcement, paramedics, firefighters, or other emergency services.
  • Providing Pre-Arrival Instructions: In certain situations, PSAP operators may provide callers with life-saving instructions while waiting for first responders to arrive. This can include CPR guidance, instructions for controlling bleeding, or advice on evacuating a burning building safely.


Examples of PSAPs Making a Difference in Collaboration with Eyeson

The image below exemplifies the collaborative efforts between PSAPs and Eyeson to enhance critical infrastructure emergency response capabilities. Upon receiving an alert from the facility's security system, the PSAP can act immediately, dispatching law enforcement and emergency response teams to the scene. Meanwhile, utilizing Eyeson's real-time collaboration capabilities in video communication, the PSAP can establish visual contact with the facility's security personnel, gaining valuable insights into the on-site situation. Through seamless collaboration facilitated by Eyeson's platform, the PSAP operators can provide crucial guidance and support to the security team, assisting in the apprehension of intruders and ensuring the safety of the facility's staff and assets.



Enhance your emergency response capabilities with cutting-edge technology like Eyeson - request a demo today. 



To conclude, now that you understand what is a public safety answering point, we can truly name them unsung heroes of emergency response systems, and play a critical role in ensuring the safety and well-being of communities. From answering distress calls to dispatching first responders and providing life-saving instructions, PSAPs serve as the frontline guardians during times of crisis. Knowing what is a psap, their dedication, and expertise makes them indispensable to public safety infrastructure, making a profound difference in countless lives daily.