When Should I call 911?

When you're faced with an emergency, the more you can do to save time, the better.

That's why you should always call 911 whenever you need emergency help from the Police, Fire, or Emergency Medical Services.

Train your entire family to use 911, even a young child can learn to recognize an emergency and know how to dial three easy digits.

A 911 emergency is easy to recognize, if you think people or property are at risk, don't hesitate. Here are some examples:

  • Any crime in progress
  • Any fire or risk of fire
  • Whenever you need an ambulance fast
  • A motor vehicle accident
  • A break in or burglary in progress
  • Any suspicious or dangerous condition

Your family should also know not to tie up a 911 line for general information.

When you shouldn't call 911:

  • Road conditions, licenses, permits, or to speak to an individual office.
  • Calls to non-emergency agencies like the water, light, sewer, or recreation facilities.
  • Billing information.
  • Follow up inquiries to previous emergencies.
  • To get a phone number for a business or individual.

You can also help minimize non-emergency calls to 911 by doing the following:

  • Learn the non-emergency telephone numbers to reach help in your area.
  • Don't allow children to play on the telephone.
  • Refrain from programming your phone to automatically dial 911 when one button is pressed.
  • Lock the keypad on your wireless phone when it is not in use, to avoid accidental 911 calls

Note: Home phones and cell phones can still be used to call 911 without service through a telephone provider. Please do not allow children to play with disconnected cell phones.

What Information To Give

Stay calm, speak clearly, help is on the way. When you dial 911, a dispatcher will answer and need certain information from you. Give the dispatcher the following information:

  • Location of the emergency
  • Your name
  • Your phone number
  • If you need Police, Fire or EMS
  • The nature of the emergency - clearly describe what is currently happening not what led up to incident.
  • If it is a disturbance, how many people are involved, are there any weapons, description of the subjects involved.
  • If subjects leave give direction of travel and vehicle description and license plate.

Stay on the line, the dispatcher can send help while still talking to you. The dispatcher will need to ask more questions and can also provide some pre-arrival instructions to help you or the other parties involved.