911 SHOULD BE USED TO REPORT LIFE OR DEATH, IN PROGRESS EMERGENCIES ONLY. Situations such as car accidents with injuries, fires, shootings, domestic violence situations in progress, medical emergencies, and crimes in progress constitute a 911 call. If you have children of your own or have children under your care, be sure to educate them on the importance of 911.
Do not call 911 if there is not an emergency. Consult the phone book, internet, or information (4-1-1) to locate the non-emergency phone number for the police department you wish to contact. Calling 911 when you do not have an emergency could delay service for someone else who does.
If you have to call 911, stay calm and speak clearly. Call takers and dispatchers are trained to get information from you. They have specific questions that they will need to ask you in order to determine what type of assistance you need and what type of 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 911 from a landline: When you call 911 from a landline, your information is immediately routed to the 911 center for the jurisdiction in which you’re calling from, and your location information is immediately visible to the 911 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 911 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 911 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 911 operator has verified your location you may be transferred to another agency that has jurisdiction for 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 911 works with this technology.