What You Know About 911 Could Save Your Life in an Emergency
9-1-1 is an emergency three digit telephone number that provides immediate access to law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services (EMS). 9-1-1 is the fastest, most reliable way to get help in an emergency. When seconds count... when they literally make the difference between life and death, this easy to remember three digit number provides immediate access to emergency personnel.
When you dial 9-1-1, your telephone number and address are immediately transmitted and displayed to a 9-1-1 operator. This information assists the 9-1-1 operator in providing the most efficient emergency response by determining the location of the caller.
It is important to know that even though a phone number and address are automatically transmitted to the 9-1-1 operator, sometimes due to errors in the phone company database, this information is not always correct. 9-1-1 operators are required to verify this information by asking the caller their location and phone number. This verification process eliminates delays and helps emergency personnel reach you in a timely manner.
When you dial 9-1-1 from a cellular telephone, the 9-1-1 operator may only receive the telephone number. It is important to remember when dialing 9-1-1 from a cellular telephone the call may be routed to a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) outside the jurisdiction or area where you are located. The 9-1-1 operator will need to know your exact location in order to assess and select the appropriate emergency service personnel to assist you. This process may require the 9-1-1 operator to route (transfer) your call to the appropriate PSAP who provides emergency services in your area.
Often callers will turn their cellular telephone off after making an emergency phone call. Please leave your cellular telephone "On" until you are certain emergency personnel have reached the scene. Doing this allows the 9-1-1 Operator to reach you if the need for additional information should arise.
A feature on many cellular phones is "One-Touch" emergency dialing. Phones with a red "nine" on the keypad often have this service. When the "nine" button is pushed the phone automatically dials 9-1-1. If a telephone with this feature is placed in a purse or a back pocket the "nine" button might inadvertently be pressed and the phone will dial 9-1-1. This feature is the number one cause of accidental calls to our 9-1-1 PSAP. If your cellular telephone has this feature please use extra care or disable the feature when storing the phone in a location where the keypad might accidentally be pressed. Your cellular service provider can assist you with disabling the feature if you choose to do so.
Should you accidentally dial 9-1-1, it is important that you remain on the line. Tell the operator there is no emergency, and the call was accidental. Hanging up without providing this information requires the 9-1-1 operator to immediately call the number back or dispatch law enforcement to your location to determine if an emergency exists. This could delay the 9-1-1 operator or law enforcement personnel from responding to an actual emergency. Accidental 9-1-1 calls are not uncommon and are only a problem when the caller hangs up upon realizing their mistake.
Parents should educate their children on the proper use of 9-1-1. You should dial 9-1-1 to report crimes in progress, fires, serious medical conditions or injury, or any hazardous situation that creates a risk of injury to persons or property that requires an immediate response of police, fire or EMS. When you dial 9-1-1, be prepared to provide the following information:
- The location of the emergency,
- The phone number you are calling from,
- The nature of the emergency, and
- The number of persons injured or involved.
Just as it is important to know when to dial 9-1-1, it is also important to know when not to call 9-1-1. Never use 9-1-1 to request:
- Non-emergency phone numbers for law enforcement, utility companies, or other services that can be obtained by dialing directory service,
- Information of weather on road conditions,
- To report non-emergency criminal activity such as littering, loud music or other activity that does not involve the immediate risk of injury to a person or damage to property,
- Non-emergency services that do not require the immediate response of emergency personnel, or
- To report power outages, which do not create a risk of injury or death.