DO's and DON'TS of 9-1-1

Have you ever wondered whether to call 911?  Since 911 is for emergencies only, it helps to understand when to call 911 and when it would be appropriate to call a non-emergency number instead.

  • Dial 911 only for an emergency.  An emergency is any serious situation where a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical help is needed right away.
  • Allow the emergency call-taker to ask you questions – they are trained to ask questions that will help prioritize, locate, and respond to the incident quickly.
    • Know the location of the emergency – know the name of the city or county you are in.  Look for landmarks, cross street signs and buildings.  Knowing the location is very important to getting the appropriate police, fire or ambulance responders to the location.  
  • While many smart phones are accurate with knowing exact locations for games and apps, 911 technology is not as accurate.  It is important to understand the 911 call-taker does not know where the 911 caller is located.  
  • Remain as calm as possible, and answer all the questions the call-taker asks.  The questions 911 call-takers ask, no matter how irrelevant they seem, are important in helping the first responders get to you as fast as possible.  Please remain on the line, listen, and follow the instructions the call-taker gives you – this will help you until the first responders arrive.  
  • Teach young children about calling 911 in an emergency.  Be sure they know what 911 is, how to dial from a home and cell phone and to trust the 911 call-taker.  When calling 911, children need to know their name, parents’ names, phone number, and most importantly –  their address.  Tell them to answer all the call-takers questions, and to stay on the phone until told to hang up.  
  • If you happen to call 911 by accident, stay on the line until you can tell the call taker that you called by accident and there is no emergency.  This saves the call taker from having to call you back and confirm there is no emergency.  We might send a deputy to confirm you are safe, which means we are having to take resources away from true emergencies.
  • Avoid calling 911 to ask when power will be restored during an outage, how the road conditions are, or whether schools are open.  Contact your utility company or monitor local radio and television for road, weather and school information.  
  • Avoid giving old cell phones to children.  Even if the phone no longer has service with a phone carrier, the phone can still dial the 911.  
  • Make sure your address is posted clearly at the entrance and on your home.  Emergency responders need to be able to find your house or business quickly. Having your address posted will help them find you.
  • Prank calls to 911 waste time and will be dealt with by local law enforcement agencies.