When to Call 9-1-1


slider-911Everyone needs to know when to call 9-1-1 for help.  Even folks that choose not to build a disaster supply kit need to know when to call 9-1-1.  During an emergency, you can call 9-1-1 from any wired or wireless phone.  However, do you know what counts as an emergency?  Do you know what information to tell the call-taker?  Knowing when to call 9-1-1 and what to tell the call-taker can save yours or a loved ones’ life. However, using 9-1-1 incorrectly can result in problems for you and those needing emergency help.

What Is An Emergency?

An emergency is any situation that requires immediate assistance from the police, fire department, or ambulance.  Emergencies include fires, a crime (especially if one is happening at the time), vehicle accidents (especially if there is someone injured), and potentially life-threatening medical issues.  If you are not sure whether the situation is a true emergency, call 9-1-1 and let the call-taker determine whether you need emergency assistance.

What Do I Tell The Call-Taker?

When you call 9-1-1, the person who answers will need to ask you a number of questions to make sure that the right emergency responders are sent to help you.  Be prepared to answer any questions the call-taker has and never hang up until the call-taker tell you to.  Also, be prepared to follow any instructions the call-taker provides, as many 9-1-1 call-takers are trained to instruct you on how to perform CPR or provide general first aid.  Here are a few things that you will need to tell the call-taker anytime you dial 9-1-1:

  • The location of the emergency, including the street address
  • The phone number you are calling from
  • The nature of the emergency
  • Details about the emergency (what is going on, what symptoms, description of an attacker, etc.)

What If I Dial 9-1-1 by Accident?

It happens to almost all of us.  A child is playing with a telephone and accidentally dials 9-1-1.  Many modern cell phones even have an emergency button that can be pressed when the phone is locked.  Sooner or later, most families will accidentally call 9-1-1 for one reason or another.  If that happens, DON’T HANG UP!  Simply explain to the call-taker what happened, otherwise responders will be sent to your location, taking them from other emergencies that may be happening.  Make an effort to train your children on the proper use of 9-1-1 in order to reduce the number of accidental calls and so that they know who and how to call for help.

Can I Send a Text Message to 9-1-1?

At this time, you cannot send text messages to the 9-1-1 system.  This is a feature of certain types of equipment that may be implemented at a later date, but is not available at this time within the HOTCOG region.