An emergency is any situation that requires immediate assistance from the police/sheriff, the fire department or ambulance. If you are ever in doubt of whether a situation is an emergency, you should call 9-1-1.
Examples of emergencies are:
Any serious medical problem
Any type of fire
Any life threatening situation
Any crime in progress
A good rule of thumb is – Whenever life or property is threatened or at immediate risk or if there is a good chance that a criminal can be apprehended call 9-1-1.
Do not call 9-1-1:
For directory assistance
When you’re bored and just want to talk
For your pet
As a prank
When the electricity or other utilities are off (you will need to call your local provider)
For NON-EMERGENCIES in your area, dial the appropriate seven-digit telephone number.
Fargo area 235-4493
Cass County area 241-5800
Moorhead area 299-5120
Clay County area 299-5151
Non-emergency incidents include “cold” (not in progress):
Break-ins to vehicles
Theft of property
Loud Noise Complaints (Party)
You should also use the NON-EMERGENCY telephone numbers for:
Intoxicated persons who are not disorderly
Cars blocking the street or driveway
Non-injury auto accidents
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.
9-1-1 Education Program
Red River Regional Dispatch Center offers a 9-1-1 Education program to teach children about how to effectively call 9-1-1. This program also educates them about when it would be appropriate to call 9-1-1 and when they should call the non-emergent number.
RRRDC started the program in 2005 after some extensive research to see what kind of learning tools were available for kids. Our choice was a program called “9-1-1 for Kids” starring a puppet figure named Red E. Fox. This program is endorsed by all federal public safety communication organizations and is the nation’s official education program teaching the proper use of 9-1-1. It originated in 1995 and has been used to teach over 2 million kids about 9-1-1. RRRDC has been to 20 different schools and given this presentation to over 3,000 kids. It has been well received by both the schools and the kids.
The program is directed toward second graders.
Our focus is to educate them on the importance of knowing their address and phone number.
The children are taught what they can do to protect themselves until help arrives and what kind of information we may ask of them.
The average class lasts approximately 45 minutes.
The 9-1-1 Education class starts with the instructors introducing themselves and who they work for. The word “dispatch” and what it entails is explained to the children.
A 20 minute video is then played for them. They are told prior to watching the video that a trivia game will be played afterwards.
The video explains how to call 9-1-1, has a fun interactive quiz show, takes them to a dispatch center where they get to do a pretend 9-1-1 call and then shows them pictures of real life children who have had to call 9-1-1 for real emergencies.
Once the video is done we show and explain hand outs which are given to the teacher to distribute at a later time.
A 15 minute trivia game is then played to test their knowledge on the contents of the video. There is a list of short scenarios where they are asked if they should call 9-1-1 or not. Vital information is shared with the students during these questions.
Children also learn how to give helpful descriptions during an interactive exercise where a child is chosen from the class and described by their peers.
They are given 10-15 minutes for open discussion and questions they might have.
At the conclusion of class, each child is rewarded with a 9-1-1 pencil for becoming a newly inducted 9-1-1 Super Hero.
Types of Calls
The Red River Regional Dispatch Center’s telephones are equipped to handle both ASCII and Baudot incoming TTY calls from deaf or hearing/speech impaired callers.
If you use a TTY, you should:
Stay calm, place the phone on the TTY and dial 9-1-1.
After the call is answered, press the TTY keys several times.
Give the call- taker time to connect their TTY.
Tell what is needed: police, fire or ambulance.
Stay on the line if it is safe and answer the call taker’s questions.
Wireless 9-1-1 is divided into two phases:
Phase I- Your call will come into the 9-1-1 center with the wireless phone call back number, the carrier’s contact number and the location of the tower that received the call.
Phase II – In addition to the above information, this phase gives the 9-1-1 center a more precise geographical location, by using a Global Positioning System (GPS) built into the phone itself. Your phone needs to be Phase II compliant in order for your exact location to be provided. To determine this, consult your cell phone user’s manual. If the cell phone is equipped with a GPS chip, then it is Phase II compliant.
TIPS when calling from a cell phone:
Even though your phone may be Phase II compatible, make sure you know your exact location.
When you dial 9-1-1 from your cell phone it is instantly routed to the nearest cell phone tower and then rerouted to the nearest 9-1-1 center. Keep in mind that this initially may not be the 9-1-1 center from which you need help. After giving your location, you may be rerouted to the correct center.
You may call 9-1-1 from a cell phone that has been disconnected. However, the 9-1-1 center will not receive the cell phone number and will not be able to call you back if you are disconnected. Be sure you give your location.
If you lose contact with 9-1-1 while on a cell phone, call back.
Voice over Internet Protocol
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone service is a rapidly growing alternative to traditional phone service due to its low prices and the consumer’s ability to choose a phone number from nearly anywhere in the country.
While VoIP is an attractive option, it is important for consumers to understand the potential limitations the technology has with respect to accessing 9-1-1.
If you are considering buying VoIP service, please visit the website, www.911voip.org which was created to help educate consumers on VoIP telephone services as it relates to accessing 9-1-1 emergency services.
Criteria for Siren Activation
The Outdoor Warning Sirens in Cass and Clay Counties may be activated for any of the following conditions:
1. The National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning for any community dispatched by Red River Regional Dispatch Center.
2. A trained weather observer has observed a tornado in any community dispatched by Red River Regional Dispatch Center and requested activation of the sirens.
3. A trained Law Enforcement Officer has observed a tornado in the Cass or Clay County area and requested siren activation.
4. An on-scene Fire Department Incident Commander has requested activation of sirens to alert the public of a hazardous materials or other life-threatening incident.
5. The Cass or Clay County Emergency Manager has requested activation of the sirens.
6. Testing and Maintenance operations
If any of the sirens for the cities in the metro area (Moorhead, Dilworth, Fargo, Horace or West Fargo) are activated for severe weather or HAZMAT, all other metro area sirens will also be activated.
Monthly Siren Testing
The Outdoor Warning Siren System is tested at 13:00 hours (1PM) on the first Wednesday of each month.
When testing, sirens will sound for approximately one minute and should not repeat. In an actual emergency sirens are sounded for approximately 3 minutes and may repeat several times.
What is the 9-1-1 Citizen’s Academy?
The Red River Regional Dispatch Center has developed a course to allow citizens a behind the scenes look at RRRDC and how the local 9-1-1 system works. This course is typically held on a Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the spring and fall.
In this 8-hour course, a group of highly trained dispatchers will lead you through all the steps it takes to process incoming calls for service. From the first ring of the phone until the last goodbye, the instructors will teach you the variety of duties performed in order to provide emergency responses to citizens. Throughout the day, you will hear actual calls and radio traffic received in our center. You will hear stories of tragedy and loss as well as those of humor and success.
Learn about the structure of RRRDC and about our successful cross-state consolidation.
Hiring and Training:
Find out what it takes to be hired as a communications operator and the intensive training program dispatchers go through in order to work in the communications center.
Find out how 9-1-1 calls are directed to RRRDC and what happens from the time the call is answered until it is dispatched. Learn when to call 9-1-1. Understand why dispatchers ask a lot of questions and the techniques they use to calm hysterical and irrational callers.
Emergency Medical Dispatching:
Find out what the EMD program is and how it works. Understand dispatching determinants and pre-arrival instructions. Learn about our quality improvement program.
Understand how fire calls differ from law enforcement calls, learn unique terminology that fire fighters use and the areas they serve.
Law Enforcement Dispatching:
Understand how dispatchers prioritize calls for service. Listen to actual radio traffic and learn how our CAD (computer aided dispatch) makes our job easier
Citizens Academy participants are given the opportunity to spend four hours plugged in with a dispatcher and observe calls coming and going. This time is scheduled at your convenience.
Meet our Instructors:
All the instructors are members of the RRRDC Staff and highly trained in their fields. They will share their knowledge enabling you to learn about the diversity of 9-1-1 dispatching and RRRDC.
Read what some previous 9-1-1 Citizen’s Academy participants said about the program.
- Thank you so much for offering this 9-1-1 academy to the public. I really enjoyed learning about all the systems involved in making 9-1-1 calls so efficient
- Excellent and Informative
- Depth and Complexity much greater than I expected
- A well needed service – very professional
- It is very informative and I recommend others attend
- I have much more respect for and knowledge of the tremendous roles you play in our community safety and health
- Amazed at staff’s depth of knowledge of their work and their ability to articulate it
Potential candidates of the 9-1-1 Citizen’s Academy must meet the following criteria:
- Open to anyone 18 years of age or over
- Participants must submit an application for processing
- Pass a criminal history check
Kristi Kanski, Shift Supervisor
9-1-1 For Kids
9-1-1 Basics for Kids
WHEN should I call 9-1-1:
In an emergency
When you need help
When you need the police, fire department or an ambulance
HOW do I call 9-1-1:
Listen for a dial tone
On a push button phone push 9-1-1
WHAT is a dispatcher?
A dispatcher sends a police officer, fire truck or an ambulance when someone call in an emergency
WHAT to say when the 9-1-1 dispatcher answers:
Tell the dispatcher where help is needed
Give your name and address loudly and clearly
Tell the dispatcher what is wrong – what type of an emergency it is
Explain what type of help you need – fire, police or ambulance
Answer all questions that are asked of you
WHAT NOT to do when you call 9-1-1:
Do not nod your head. Instead, answer “yes” or “no” out loud.
Do not hang up until the dispatcher says it’s OK to do so.
WHEN YOU SHOULD NOT call 9-1-1:
When there is no emergency
As a game, prank or joke
As a test to see if 9-1-1 works
9-1-1 Safety Tips for Kids (& Adults)
Don’t say “Nine-Eleven.” There is no “eleven” on the phone keypad and children can become confused in an emergency situation. Instead, always say “Nine-One-One”
Always call 9-1-1 from a safe place. If there is a fire in the house, get to a safe place before you call 9-1-1
Know your address-have it posted near every phone. Kids and adults both have been known to forget their address and phone number during an emergency, so make it easy for everyone in the home
Never call 9-1-1 as a joke or prank. You could get into trouble, your parents could get into trouble and you could keep someone who really needs help from getting it
9-1-1 is for people, NOT animals. If you have a problem with a pet, call a friend or veterinarian. If you are not sure you have an emergency, call 9-1-1 and explain your problem to the 9-1-1 dispatcher
If you call 9-1-1 by accident, please do not hang up. When the dispatcher answers, explain that you called 9-1-1 by mistake and that you do not have an emergency