Calling 9-1-1

When to Call 9-1-1

You might wonder what is the difference between an emergency and non-emergency.

Here are some examples of reasons to call 9-1-1:

  • any emergency where life or property is in immediate danger
  • an injury requiring immediate medical attention
  • a fire (not a controlled burn pile or other controlled fire)
  • a crime in progress (occurred minutes ago, not hours)
  • a serious traffic accident
  • a violent dog has attacked a person (not just running at large)
  • a driver is dangerously swerving on the road
  • someone is playing with guns

What to expect when calling 9-1-1

Be as calm as possible. Callers who yell are hard to understand. Try not to yell into the phone. We understand it can be very difficult to be calm during an emergency, but remaining calm and speaking clearly will get you the best help in the shortest amount of time.

When the call-taker answers your 9-1-1 call, they will ask for your address.

Call takers will always ask to verify your address or location even though they may have your phone number and address on their 9-1-1 screen. This is a backup measure to eliminate sending help to the wrong location.

After verifying the address, you will be asked a series of questions designed to get the proper help to you in the least amount of time.

Do not argue with the call taker, they are trained professionals and the questions they ask will get you the best help in the least amount of time.

If you are reporting a police emergency, call-takers will ask you specific questions to determine what is going on, if weapons or alcohol is involved, where any suspects may be located, descriptions of suspects and vehicles, and other details that will be relayed to responding police officers.

If you are reporting a fire emergency, call takers will ask questions to identify what is on fire, if flames are seen, if it is a field or brush fire they will ask if it is threatening any buildings and the size of the area burning, they may ask you the color of the smoke or if any hazardous chemicals are involved.

The call-takers understand that if you are reporting a house fire from your house, you will not have time to answer many questions, and evacuating yourself and your family is the priority. They will get help started immediately and advise you to evacuate the house.

If you are reporting a medical emergency, the call takers will ask very specific questions related to the medical problem. Responders and paramedics need the best possible information so they bring the right equipment and the appropriate amount of manpower, so the call-taker will pass on the answers to the questions to the responders as they are en route to your location.

These questions do not delay an emergency response as they are being asked while resources are on their way.

Did you know?

You can text 911 if you can't call.

VoIP/internet phone systems

Before purchasing an internet based (VoIP) phone service, you must take important life, safety and liability concerns into consideration.

Please read all information carefully!

Some VoIP services DO NOT automatically come with the ability to dial 9-1-1. You must request and successfully activate the 9-1-1 type dialing feature before you can dial 9-1-1.

Not all VoIP providers offer traditional 9-1-1access to emergency services. While some VOIP providers are connected to the 9-1-1 network, there are Internet based phone services which offer a limited 9-1-1 TYPE service, which is NOT routed to the 9-1-1 dispatchers. Calls received from the latter are routed to the general telephone number for the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) or emergency service provider. These Internet based phone services require you (the consumer) to acknowledge that there may be a greater possibility that the general telephone number will produce a busy signal or will take longer to answer than traditional 9-1-1 dialing.

Emergency personnel MAY NOT be able to find your location if the call is unable to be completed, is dropped or is disconnected or if you are unable to speak to tell them this information. It may or may not allow for local emergency personnel to identify your telephone number.

Broadband, internet and/or power outages will render your VoIP phone useless, including dialing 9-1-1. A power outage, broadband service outage or cable service outage affecting your home or business or a change in physical location of your Internet based phone service equipment will prevent you from being able to use Internet based phone service, and will prevent you from being able to call 9-1-1.

There is a possibility of Network Congestion and/or Reduced Speed for Routing 9-1-1. There is a greater possibility of network congestion and/or reduced speed in the routing of 9-1-1 communications utilizing Internet based phone service equipment as compared to traditional 9-1-1 dialing over traditional telephone networks.

Safety and Liability. If there is an emergency at your residence or business and you are not there and have not instructed family, babysitters, guests, the elderly, or employees how to activate the Internet based phone service system, you may be placing them in danger because of the inability to contact emergency service. Internet based phone service will not accept any responsibility or liability for the inability to contact emergency services and requires that you indemnify Internet based phone service for any claims resulting from your or any other person's inability to dial 9-1-1 or to access emergency service personnel using Internet based phone service.