When to Call 9-1-1?

9-1-1 is the number to call when you need help in an emergency!

An emergency is when something happens and you need the police, firemen, or an ambulance.  For example, if you see your neighbor's house on fire, that's an emergency!  If someone falls down and is badly hurt, that's an emergency too!  But, if your cat is stuck in a tree, that's not an emergency. 

9-1-1 is not the number to use if you just need help from an adult or for pets.  You should only call 9-1-1 in a real emergency - never as a joke!

WHEN to call 9-1-1:

  • when lives are at risk
  • when you need the police, fire department, or paramedics

When you should NOT call 9-1-1:

  • when there is no emergency
  • for animals (except when they pose a threat to the safety of a person)
  • as a game or prank
  • for a joke
  • to practice

What to do When 9-1-1 Answers?

Here are some tips to help you remember what to do when they are on the phone with  9-1-1:

  • Remember to stay calm and speak slowly.

  • Tell the 9-1-1 call taker what's wrong and where you need help.

  • Speak up loud and clear when the 9-1-1 call taker asks you questions.

  • Stay on the phone until the 9-1-1 call taker tells you to hang up.

  • When you call 9-1-1 you will be asked:

    • What is the location of the emergency?
      • Most calls to 9-1-1 will display at least a partial location information to the 9-1-1 call receiver. Depending on the type of phone you use, this information can either be very accurate (in case of landline phones), or general area (in case of cell phones), to very unusable (in case of broadband phones whose address information is not up-to-date). The 9-1-1 call receiver will always attempt to confirm the location of the emergency.

    • What is your phone number and name?
      • Your phone number and name is used to call you back if the call is dropped, or by emergency responders if they need to contact you.

    • What is your emergency?
      • You may be asked a series of questions, even after the emergency responders have been dispatched. In some situations, the call receiver will stay on the phone with you until help arrives. Do not hang up until told to do so, unless your safety is threatened.

  • 9-1-1 Cannot receive Test Messages.
    • There are many ways to call 9-1-1; from a landline phone, a payphone, a broadband phone, or a wireless phone, but you must make a "call".

  • Help 9-1-1 help those who need it.
    • Use 9-1-1 responsibly. Call 9-1-1 only if you need an emergency response from police, fire or medics.
    • In a wide-spread emergency (ie tornado) do not use the phone for the first few hours, except for emergency 9-1-1 calls.
    • Make sure wireless phones are locked when not in use so you don't accidentally dial 9-1-1.
    • If you do accidentally call 9-1-1, do not hang up. Wait until a call receiver answers, then explain your mistake. If you hang up 9-1-1 will attempt to call you back and police may be dispatched to your location.

  • Know your location.
    • One of the first things you will be asked when calling 9-1-1 is "What is your location?" So, it is important to:

      • Post your address and medical information in your house. You may know this information, but someone else who calls 9-1-1 for you may not.
      • When you are not home, be aware of your surroundings. Street names, landmarks or mileposts can all be helpful in locating you.