Do’s and Don’ts of 9-1-1

Do not dial 9-1-1 to “test” your phone or the 9-1-1 system. This needlessly burdens the dispatchers and system with non-emergency calls.

Do not call 9-1-1 to ask for phone numbers; instead we ask that you call 1411

If you dialed 9-1-1 in error, do not hang up the telephone. Instead, stay on the line and explain to the dispatcher that you dialed by mistake and that you do not have an emergency. If you hang up, a police officer or deputy must be dispatched to confirm that you are OK. This will needlessly take resources away from genuine emergencies

When the dispatcher answers, briefly describe the type of incident that you are reporting. For example, “I’m reporting a vehicle fire,” or “I’m reporting a shoplifter.” Then stay on the line with the dispatcher and do not hang up until the dispatcher tells you. In some cases, the dispatcher will keep you on the line while the emergency units are responding to ask additional questions or to obtain ongoing information.

Let the dispatcher ask you questions. Dispatchers have been trained to ask questions that will prioritize the incident, locate it and speed an appropriate response. Your answers should be brief and responsive. Remain calm and speak clearly. If you are not in a position to give full answers to the dispatcher (because the suspect is nearby), stay on the phone and the dispatcher will ask you questions that can be answered “yes” or “no”
Be prepared to describe your location. It is a good idea to get into the practice of being aware of your location should an emergency occur, especially if you are on the road traveling.

Be prepared to describe the persons involved. When describing an individual, start at the top of the head and work your way down (ex. Race, sex, height, weight, hair color, hat, shirt, pants, shoes etc…)

Be prepared to describe any vehicles involved. This includes color, year, make, body style (model), and license. If the vehicle is moving the dispatcher will need to know the last known direction.

When calling 9-1-1 it is important to call for yourself instead of having someone else call for you if at all possible. We need information first hand from the parties involved in the situation.