What to Expect l Emergencies l Non-Emergencies l 9-1-1 Issues
A professionally trained 9-1-1 operator will answer your call. Do not hang up.
Between the moment you send a 9-1-1 call and the moment we answer; the phone network is routing your call and compiling important information about your location and the emergency response services in your area. This process can take several seconds.
The operator needs information about your emergency to send help as quickly as possible. While it may seem like the operator is rudely interrupting you, they need the essential information quickly to send help fast, and are trained to control the conversation.
Remain calm, speak clearly, and prepare yourself to quickly and completely answer the following four types of questions. Upon picking up your 9-1-1 call, the operator asks:
1. Where is your emergency?
WHERE do we send help? Give the complete address of the emergency, including the CITY, and where the emergency responders will find you. Be specific and provide as much detail as you can, especially if you do not know the street address of your emergency.
- Provide the name of the road you are on and direction of travel; the nearest intersection, exit, or mile marker; and your location relative to these landmarks.
- Identify nearby businesses, landmarks, and geographic features (streams, hills, etc.)
- Tell us the floor of the building and the room or apartment number you are in; know how many houses your home is from the corner, know if your street runs east-west or north-south, know the direction your house faces.
2. What is your phone number?
The 9-1-1 operator needs your working phone number. They will call you back if the call disconnects or you hang up before the essential information is obtained. Police will be sent to your address if you do not answer the call back.
3. What is your name?
WHO is calling and WHO needs help.
4. What happened?
Your information helps emergency personnel respond appropriately to the emergency or situation. Remain calm as the 9-1-1 operator asks about the situation. Be clear, specific, and to the point with your comments.
Help is on the way!
Even while you remain on the phone providing information about your emergency, help is on the way. It may seem to you like the 9-1-1 operator is not sending help fast enough, asking too many questions, or is too calm to understand the urgency of the situation. However, 9-1-1 operators are highly trained and experienced in the most efficient process to get the essential information for sending the right help to the right location as quickly as possible. While the 9-1-1 operator gets the critical information from you, in the order above, dispatchers are informing the emergency response team.
If you do not have an emergency and call 9-1-1, your call may be put on “hold,” while the operator deals with priority callers or emergencies. DO NOT HANG UP. The operator will return to your call as quickly as they can.
If you need the police, the 9-1-1 operator will ask how long ago the incident happened, or during what time frame the incident could have happened. The operator may ask for descriptions and names of persons involved in the incident, the styles of vehicles involved, and which way those people and/or vehicles involved may have left the site of the incident, among other details. The 9-1-1 operator immediately gives your information to the dispatcher sending you help. The operator focuses their attention on you, while the dispatcher communicates with the police.
If you need emergency medical assistance, you will be connected to a trained emergency medical dispatcher (EMD). The dispatcher will ask you for the address and phone number of the emergency. They may ask detailed questions about the situation and may instruct you how to provide care before the ambulance arrives.
If you need fire fighters for your emergency, you will be connected to a fire dispatcher, who will ask you for the address and phone number of the emergency. The dispatcher may ask you for additional information needed by the fire fighters responding to your emergency.
Once the 9-1-1 operator or dispatcher has the critical information needed to send the right help to the location of your emergency, they will direct you to call 9-1-1 again if anything changes before help arrives. Do not hang up until the operator indicates it is OK to hang up.