Facts about 9-1-1

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What is Enhanced 9-1-1?

Enhanced 911 is a system that automatically displays the caller’s address and telephone number on the Dispatcher computer screen. This information is not yet available for calls made from cellular phones at the Rice Steele 911 Center, although latitude and longitude are displayed.

When should I call 9-1-1?

9-1-1 is only to be used in emergency situations. An emergency is any situation that requires immediate response from law enforcement, the fire department, or an ambulance. Examples of emergencies would be a serious medical problem (chest pain, seizure, bleeding), any type of fire (business, car, home, buildings), or any life-threatening situation (fights, person with weapons, assault).  9-1-1 can also be used to report crimes in progress whether or not a life is threatened.

If you are in doubt, call 9-1-1. It’s better to be safe and let the Dispatcher determine if it’s an emergency.

What information will the 9-1-1 Dispatcher need?

  • Location of the emergency.  The most important piece of information you can provide to a 911 dispatcher is the location or address of the emergency.
  • The nature of the emergency.  Describe what is going on.
  • Your name, address and phone number.
  • Other information specific to the emergency.  Let the dispatcher ask you questions. They have been trained to ask questions that will help prioritize the incident, locate it, and send an appropriate response.  Remain calm and speak clearly.
  • Don’t hang up until the Dispatcher tells you to.

Special Notes for Cell Phone Users

While cell phones are extremely convenient and allow us to call for help in almost any situation, there are special considerations you need to be aware of.

You will need to immediately provide the 911 call taker with precise location information. If you’re unable to speak, stay on the line – dispatchers can use various tools to try and better determine your location.

Pocket Dialing

Carry your phone in a place where you will not accidentally dial 911.  Even if your phone is locked it can still dial 911.  Dispatchers have had instances of people accidentally calling 911 on their cell phone  (by bumping or sitting on their phone), and then going on with their day unaware that the dispatchers are on the line and trying to talk with them.  This ties up not only a channel in the communications system, but also some of the dispatchers’ time — and both of these are needed in order to respond to actual emergencies.

When NOT to call 9-1-1

  • For information
  • For weather information
  • For directions
  • For traffic conditions
  • For directory assistance
  • To request extra patrols
  • To voice complaints

If you accidentally call 9-1-1 . . .

DO NOT hang up. Stay on the phone and tell the Dispatcher what happened so that he/she knows that there is no emergency.

In the event of a 9-1-1 hang-up, the 9-1-1 Center will attempt to contact you. If no contact can be made they will dispatch resources to your location.