Click on each question to expand/collapse answer.
- When should you use 911?
- When you believe your safety or well being is in jeopardy
- When you believe there is a threat to life or to prevent serious injury
- When you believe there is a threat to property
- When you see someone hurt
- When you see a crime in progress
- When you see a motor vehicle accident
- When you see a fire
- When you hear someone screaming for help
- When you hear gunshots or loud explosions
- When should you NOT use 911?
- To obtain directions
- To speak directly with a specific firefighter, police officer, or medic
- To obtain general information or conduct business
- To see if someone is in jail
- To see when you can get a copy of your police report
- To get weather information
- To report a power outage, unless you have a medical condition/emergency
- Why do I have to give my address and phone number? Don't the 911 computers give that information?
Our Enhanced 911 (E-911) equipment does provide a great deal of information to our 911 dispatchers. This information is provided with the assistance of the local telephone companies. As with any computer system, errors in data processing can occur, making it essential for the 911 dispatcher to always verify the callers information each time they call.
It is also important to remember that an incident does not always occur where the caller is at, thus 911 dispatchers must verify exactly where the emergency responders need to go. There are also times when callers have moved, but kept their phone numbers, and their address may not be updated yet. This is especially the case when dealing with voice over internet protocol (VOIP) phone services. Always be sure you have updated your account information with your phone service provider.
- What does 911 ask when you call?
- Location and nearest cross street of the incident. This allows dispatchers to provide the closest responders to find you in the quickest and most efficient manner.
- Type of problem. This allows the dispatcher to determine if you are in need of police, fire or medical attention and to get you the best response in the quickest amount of time possible.
- Name of caller. This allows the dispatcher to provide responders a contact person's name for when they arrive on scene.
- Phone number of caller. This allows the dispatcher a number to call back in the event the conversation is disconnected and vital information still needs to be retrieved.
- When the incident occurred. This allows the dispatcher to properly prioritize calls for the quickest and most efficient response.
- Number of vehicles involved (if applicable). This allows the dispatcher to send the appropriate number of responding emergency personnel. It also helps the dispatcher determine other available resources that may be needed.
- Anyone injured? Trapped? (if applicable) This also allows the dispatcher to send the appropriate number of responding emergency personnel. It also helps the dispatcher determine other available resources that may be needed.
- Number of people involved. Again, this allows the dispatcher to send the appropriate number of responding emergency personnel. It also helps the dispatcher determine other available resources that may be needed. It is also essential in helping the dispatcher prioritize the call.
- Can I call 911 from my cell phone?
Cell phones today provide us with an ever increasing since of security. Nearly everyone has one and with the expansion of coverage areas they can basically be used just about everywhere. It is true that we have the capability of tracking most cell phones when they call us.
However, there are many things that can affect the accuracy of current mapping systems. The distance of the caller from cell towers, the terrain around a caller, and the type of building the caller may be in are a few. For these reasons it is not always a good idea to solely rely on cell phones as a way of calling 911 for help or assistance.
- Can my child call 911 on an old cell phone?
Don't let your child play with a cell phone without removing the battery first.
Cell phones that have been deactivated can still call 911 and we receive numerous calls everyday from infants and small children who inadvertently dial 911 while playing with them. These phones cannot be called back so they tie up dispatchers trying to talk the child into taking the phone to an adult or parent so they can confirm nothing is wrong.
- If you need law enforcement, fire or EMS, call 911.
- If you do call 911, even by mistake, do not hang up the phone. 9-1-1 call takers are trained to get the most important information as quickly as possible to get help on the way to an emergency situation. In an emergency situation, allow the call taker to ask you all the questions they need in order to get help to you. If you happen to call by accident, stay on the line until you can tell the call taker that you called by accident and there is no emergency. This saves the call taker from having to call you back and confirm there is no emergency
- When calling 911, do your best to stay calm and answer all questions. Staying calm can be one of the most difficult, yet most important, things you do when calling 9-1-1. It is very important that you stay as calm as possible and answer all the questions the 9-1-1 call taker asks. The questions 9-1-1 call takers ask, no matter how relevant they seem, are important in helping get the first responders to you as fast as possible.
- Help the 911 call taker help you. Listen and answer the questions asked. By doing this, it helps the call taker understand your situation and assist you with your emergency.
- Know the location of the emergency. The wireless 9-1-1 caller must be aware that the 9-1-1 center that answers the call may not be the 9-1-1 center that services the area that the wireless caller is calling from. Look for landmarks, cross street signs and buildings. Knowing the location is vital to getting the appropriate police, fire or EMS units to respond. Providing an accurate address is critically important especially when making a wireless 9-1-1 call. Make it a habit to always know the street your on or what mile marker or exit your close to if traveling on an interstate.
- Teach your children how to call 911. Be sure they know what 9-1-1 is, how to dial from your home and cell phone, and to trust the 9-1-1 call taker. Make sure your child is physically able to reach at least one phone in your home. When calling 9-1-1 your child needs to know their name, parents name, telephone number, and most importantly their address. Tell them to answer all the call takers questions and to stay on the phone until instructed to hang up.
- Making prank calls to 911 wastes time and is illegal. Be sure all members of your household are aware that prank or harassing calls to 9-1-1 will be dealt with by local law enforcement agencies.
- Post your address clearly and prominently at the entrance to your home as well as on your house or business. Posting your 9-1-1 address at the driveway entrance and on your home will alleviate any confusion as to whether emergency responders have the correct location. Try using reflective numbers or illuminated signs so that it can be seen in the evening as well as during the day. DO NOT ASSUME SINCE YOUR MAILBOX IS MARKED YOU HAVE POSTED YOUR ADDRESS- mailboxes are not always at the entrance of a driveway and usually are not marked clearly on both sides.
- Know the phones you own. Educate everyone about the phone system in your home as well as your cell phone. Children may need to use the devices in an emergency and will need to know how to operate them.