Calling 9-1-1: What to Expect

The more you know about what to expect when you call 9-1-1, the faster help can get there.

Follow the instructions the dispatcher gives you and remember, even while they are talking to you, help is already being sent.

  • Stay Calm
  • Listen Carefully
  • Give Information
  • Follow Instructions

Everyone should know the numbers. Train your entire family. Even a very young child can learn to recognize an emergency and know to call 9-1-1.

24 hours a day, every day of the year, from any working telephone. Even a cellular phone with no active service can still call 9-1-1.

BEING KNOWLEDGEABLE AND PREPARED CAN MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE.

  • The dispatcher may ask you a lot of questions. 9-1-1 needs to know what kind of emergency you have to send the appropriate emergency responders.
  • The questions are not delaying the response. Help is on the way.
  • If you’re calling from a cell phone, your location may not be available to the dispatcher.
  • Be ready to give the complete address or to describe landmarks like nearby businesses or cross streets.

9-1-1 NEEDS TO KNOW WHERE TO GO.

When you call 9-1-1 one of the first things you will be asked is the location of the emergency. The dispatcher may not automatically know your location and they will ask you to confirm it. 

Be prepared to give as much detail on your location as possible. Providing an accurate location is critically important, especially when calling 9-1-1 from a cell or VOIP phone

REMAIN CALM, BE PREPARED.

Try to stay calm, answer the questions and follow all instructions. Our professional staff are highly trained to get important information from you. Listen carefully and answer as concisely as possible.

"THEY ASK SO MANY QUESTIONS. I JUST WANT TO HANG UP."

Dispatchers are highly-trained to evaluate every situation and inform the police or first responders so they are well-prepared when they arrive.

They can also give you instructions that can help save a life, even before the emergency help arrives. 

Don’t hang up.

"I’M NOT SURE IF THIS IS A BIG ENOUGH PROBLEM TO BOTHER 9-1-1?"

9-1-1 is for emergencies, not information. But if you have any doubt, call 9-1-1. It’s best to err on the side of safety. The dispatcher can decide and help you.

"WHAT IF I AM PUT ON HOLD?”

Calls are answered in the order they are received so if you hang up and call back, your call will go to the end of the queue which can result in a slower response.

9-1-1 dispatchers receive instant notification any time a caller is holding and will do everything they can to get to your call as quickly as possible.

”WHAT IF I ACCIDENTALLY CALL 9-1-1? WILL I GET IN TROUBLE?”

If you misdial 9-1-1, don’t hang up! Instead, stay on the line and tell the dispatcher you misdialed; otherwise, they will have to call you back. If they can’t reach you, a police officer may be sent to your location to be sure you are OK. This ties up valuable resources from true emergencies.