The purpose of 911 is to provide the public with a local access point to request immediate assistance from police, fire, and rescue personnel for any in-progress situation that could potentially result in danger to someone's life and/or property.
You should call 911 for emergencies only. An emergency is the immediate threat to life and/or property. This includes a crime in progress, any kind of fire, or a serious illness or injury. If you call 911 when it is not an emergency, you make that telephone line unavailable for someone else to use if they have an emergency.
When You Call 911
You will speak with a person who has been trained to follow department policy and procedure and ask specific questions to obtain the best information possible for the safety of the public and the response personnel. Cooperation from the callers is a vital part of establishing effective public safety communications. As a caller, you should stay calm, stay safe, let the dispatcher ask questions, answer the questions, and follow the directions given to you to the best of your ability. If it is safe for you to stay on the line, do not hang up until the dispatcher indicates you should hang up.
The following questions will be asked:
- Where is your emergency? Exact address is the most important question; do not expect that the dispatcher will know your exact location. This is especially true when calling from a cell phone. You may have heard that when you call with your cell phone, the dispatcher will know exactly where you are. This is not true! Some cell phones only give the location of the cell tower that you have contacted! When you give your location first, the dispatcher can send someone to your aid if the phone is disconnected unexpectedly.
- What kind of emergency are you experiencing? If it is not an emergency, you should not call 911. Tell the dispatcher what you need (i.e., police, fire, ambulance).
- Who is involved? Who needs an ambulance? Do they have any known health challenges?
- Is it happening right now? If it is not happening now, the priority may be lowered.
- Are there any known weapons involved in the incident? Do the people involved in the incident have any weapons available to them?
- How can we reach you?
- Give them your telephone number. Do not hang up the phone until the dispatcher tells you to do so.
- Do you know why this is happening?