Situations such as car accidents with injuries, fires, shootings, domestic violence situations in progress, medical emergencies, and crimes in progress constitute a 9-1-1 call.  If you have children of your own or have children under your care, be sure to educate them on the importance of 9-1-1.

Just to remind you, 9-1-1 is strictly for emergencies. Misusing it for non-emergency situations can have serious consequences. Instead, you can use the phone book, internet, or information (4-1-1) to find the non-emergency number for the police department you need. By doing so, you’re ensuring that emergency services are available for those who truly need them.

When calling 9-1-1, it’s crucial to stay calm and speak clearly. The call takers and dispatchers are trained to assist you, but they rely on the information you provide. By answering their specific questions, you’re helping them determine the type of assistance you need and the appropriate help to send.

They will ask you questions such as:

  • The location of your emergency (where)
  • The nature of your emergency (what)
  • Description(s) of people and vehicles involved (who)
  • Information regarding weapons, drug, or alcohol use
  • Your name and contact information, if necessary

Calling 9-1-1 from a landlineWhen you call 9-1-1 from a landline, your information is immediately routed to the 9-1-1 center for the jurisdiction in which you’re calling from, and your location information is immediately visible to the 9-1-1 call taker. This makes it very easy to locate you.

Cell phones and knowing your location: Most cellular phones have GPS capabilities. However, the accuracy of the information provided to the 9-1-1 operator depends on the age and type of cellphone that you’re using. Therefore, it is essential that you tell the call taker the location in which you need assistance to ensure that you receive the help you need as quickly as possible.

Note: Cell phone calls are routed to 9-1-1 centers based on the location of the cell phone tower, not physical location. It is possible that you will be connected to an agency that you do not need. Once the 9-1-1 operator has verified your location, you may be transferred to another agency that has jurisdiction over the location of the emergency.

VoIP phones: Portable interconnected VoIP service enables consumers to take their home or business phone service almost anywhere. Because VoIP services are portable and can be used from any internet connection, the location of the caller may not be completely accurate. If you have a VoIP phone provider such as Vonage and Magic Jack, please visit http://www.fcc.gov/guides/voip-and-911.service and review the FAQ and 9-1-1 tips tab for information on how 9-1-1 works with this technology.