How to Effectively Call 911 - What Happens
Calling 911 is very stressful and it's easy to feel overwhelmed. Our Communication Technicians are trained professionals to guide callers through the experience, but knowing what to expect can help make the 911 call go smoothly and get emergency help where and when it's needed. If you choose to call 911, know what to expect and how to react.
1. Stay calm. It's important to take a deep breath and not get excited. Any situation that requires 911 is, by definition, an emergency. The Communication Technician knows that and will try to move things along quickly, but calmly and under control.
2. Know the location of the emergency and the number you are calling from. This may be asked and answered a couple of times but don't get frustrated. Even though many 911 centers have enhanced capabilities -- meaning they usually can see your location on the computer screen -- they are still required to confirm the information. If for some reason you are disconnected, at least emergency crews will know where to go and how to call you back. As the call progresses, you will hear clicking - do not hang up!
3. Wait for the Communication Technician to ask questions, and then answer clearly and calmly. If you are in danger of assault, the Communication Technician will still need you to answer quietly, mostly "yes" and "no" questions.
4. If you reach a busy signal or recording, listen to what it says. If the recording says your call cannot be completed, hang up and try again. While not a usual occurrence, if you get a busy signal, TRY AGAIN.
5. Let the Communication Technician guide the conversation. He or she is typing the information into a computer and may seem to be taking forever. There's a good chance, however, that emergency services are already being sent while you are still on the line.
6. Follow all directions. In some cases, the Communication Technician will give you instructions. Listen carefully, follow each step exactly, and ask for clarification if you don't understand.
7. Keep your eyes open. You may be asked to describe victims, suspects, vehicle description(s), license plates or other parts of the scene.
8. Do not hang up the call until directed to do so by the call-taker.