9-1-1 Basics and Tips

Don’t hang up the telephone if you dial 9-1-1 by mistake. Please stay on the telephone and wait for someone to answer and explain that you dialed by mistake and do not have an emergency. If you hang up and a telecommunicator cannot call back and confirm you are okay, a police officer or deputy must be dispatched to make sure you are alright.

Answer all questions the telecommunicator asks you. Telecommunicators have received specialized training to ask questions to determine the exact help you need. Answer each question to the best of your ability, and try to stay calm. If you cannot answer a question (for example, if a suspect is nearby and can hear you) stay on the phone and try to answer “yes” or “no.” While a telecommunicator asks these questions, he or she is entering the information into a computerized dispatch system. Other telecommunicators can see that information and send help to you while the other telecommunicator is still talking to you on the phone. Answering questions does not delay response. Getting more information from you allows us to give more information to responders.

Pay attention to details. If you can do so safely, pay attention to details such as vehicle or suspect descriptions. Notice vehicle color, make and model and any other descriptions that might be helpful.

9-1-1 can’t always locate where you are. Most cell phones now are equipped with GPS or other technology to help 9-1-1 locate you in case of an emergency. Sometimes this information does not come through, and telecommunicators have to ask several questions to figure out where you are. Answer these questions fully so help will find you quicker.

If you don’t have any change, you can still call 9-1-1 from a pay phone.

It does not cost anything to dial 9-1-1 from a pay phone, just pick up the phone and dial.

9-1-1 is available for the hearing impaired and people with speech disabilities via special devices called TTYs and TDDs.

Only call 9-1-1 for real emergencies. If you are not sure if it is an emergency or not, call 9-1-1 and the telecommunicator can help determine who would be best to help you.

If you have VoIP (voice over internet protocol) phone service, remember you must contact your service provider to update your address if you move. This information will not change automatically; you must make these changes.