Every day across this nation, thousands of people just like you seek immediate assistance in times of crisis by calling 9-1-1.
What is 9-1-1?
Nine-one-one is the number most people in the U.S. and some in International countries call to get help in a police, fire or medical emergency. In some places, you may be able to be connected with Poison Control by calling 9-1-1, but you should check with local officials in your area to make sure.
A 9-1-1 call goes over dedicated networks to the appropriate 9-1-1 answering point (PSAP) for the caller’s location, and trained personnel then send the emergency help needed.
What is Enhanced 9-1-1?
Enhanced 9-1-1, or E9-1-1, is a system which routes an emergency call to the appropriate 9-1-1 answering point (PSAP) for the caller’s location, AND automatically displays the caller’s phone number and address.
The 9-1-1 call taker will typically ask the caller to verify the information, which appears on his or her computer screen. In most areas, phone number and location information is available for 9-1-1 calls made from a cellular/wireless phone.
Who pays for 9-1-1?
In most areas each household and business pays a small monthly fee for 9-1-1 service that appears on their phone bill. There is no per-call charge for calling 9-1-1.
However, EMS/ambulances dispatched through 9-1-1 may charge for taking someone to the hospital; this is a separate ambulance charge, not a 9-1-1 charge.
When to use 9-1-1?
Nine-one-one (9-1-1) is only to be used in emergency situations. An emergency is any situation that requires immediate assistance from the police/sheriff, the fire department or an ambulance.
If you are ever in doubt of whether a situation is an emergency you should call 9-1-1. It’s better to be safe and let the 9-1-1 call taker determine if you need emergency assistance.
Do Not Call 9-1-1:
for directory assistance
when you’re bored and just want to talk
for paying traffic tickets
for your pet
as a prank
If you call 9-1-1 by mistake, do not hang up. Tell the call taker what happened so they know there really isn’t an emergency.
What about Prank 9-1-1 Calls?
It’s a prank call when someone calls 9-1-1 for a joke, or calls 9-1-1 and hangs up. Prank calls not only waste time and money, but can also be dangerous.
If 9-1-1 lines or call takers are busy with prank calls, someone with a real emergency may not be able to get the help they need. In most places, it’s against the law to make prank 9-1-1 calls.
How to make a 9-1-1 Call.
In an emergency, dial 9-1-1 on your phone. It’s a free call. You can use any kind of phone: push button, rotary, cellular/wireless, cordless, or pay phone. (With some pay phones, you may need coins to get a dial tone; with many wireless phones, Enhanced 9-1-1 does not yet work.)
Stay calm and state your emergency
Speak loudly and clearly. Give the 9-1-1 call taker your name, phone number and the address where help is needed.
Answer the call taker’s questions. Stay on the telephone if it’s safe to do so, and don’t hang up until the call taker tells you to.
How does 9-1-1 handle different languages?
When necessary, a 9-1-1 call taker can add an interpreter from an outside service to the line.
A non-English speaking caller may hear a short conversation in English and some clicking sounds as the interpreter is added to the line.
What is text to 9-1-1?
Text-to-9-1-1 refers to the ability to send text messages to local 9-1-1 call centers during an emergency. Despite growing reliance on text messaging by millions of consumers, almost all 9-1-1 call centers today cannot receive text messages; they can only receive voice calls, about two-thirds of which are from wireless phones. A limited amount of caller data is automatically provided to the call centers, such as the caller’s location, which may be only approximate if the call is placed from a wireless phone or a large, multi-unit building.
In a Next Generation 9-1-1 environment, consumers will be able to make voice, text, or video "calls" from any communications device via Internet Protocol-based networks. Such calls may provide additional useful information to the 9-1-1 center, such as the caller’s medical history (if pre-approved by the caller), the schematics of a building, or images of an accident scene.