What constitutes an emergency?
- When someone's life is in danger, a life threatening situation where every second counts
- When a crime is in progress (ie: a fight, a theft, a break and enter, a prowler, a dangerous driver on the road putting others at risk, graffiti or other vandalism in progress)
- When there has been a motor vehicle accident, with injuries
These are only some examples of when to call 911. There may be circumstances that differ from the examples given, but remember, if it is happening now and you see it taking place, then call 911.
Do call anyway if you are not sure if your call constitutes an 911 emergency. It is better to err on the side of safety.
Do Not use text messaging as a method to call 911 for emergency services assistance. Text messaging does not allow our operators to ask questions and understand the urgency of the public's need. They will need to get full and accurate details of events and complaints. For the hearing impaired community, the best method for communicating with 911 remains the TTY format.
Do Not program 911 into any telephone, this may lead to accidental calls.
Do always pay attention to your location. Emergency operators will need to know where you are so they can dispatch the help you need. If you don't know the exact address an intersection, hwy exit sign, cross street or landmark will assist the police in getting to your location faster.
Do remain where you are unless you are in danger (example: domestic, fight etc.)
Do let the trained operator take control of the conversation and get all the necessary information. A 911 operator is trained to work through the questions in a systematic order, so the questions may seem very quick or rapid fire. But, this is the only way to gather the information as quickly as possible so a police person can be safely dispatched. Often the person taking the call has already alerted the dispatcher of the initial incident and is trying to gain further information to assist the police and you.
Answer all the questions. It can be frustrating because some of the questions seem irrelevant, however the faster you answer the faster help will arrive. For example, if asked the date of birth - this is needed to ensure the integrity of the records data base system - it ensures you are not mistaken for another person with the same name, it is a unique identifier.
Stay calm. callers are often hysterical, screaming or distracted by others around them, this hinders the operators ability to get the necessary information. Speak clearly and give the operator as much detail as possible.
If you call 911 by mistake, Do Not hang up the phone! Public safety policy dictates the operator to call back to confirm there is no emergency. This wastes valuable time. Simply apologize and tell the operator you called by accident and there is no emergency.