you are at a large business or school, you may have to
dial another number (i.e. 9+911) to access 911. Other
phone systems will put the call through with simply 911
even if they normally require dialing a code for an
Emergency numbers will vary from country to country. If
you are vacationing, then be sure that you know what
that number is. For example, the number is 9-9-9 in
Britain and 0-0-0 in Australia, 1-1-2 is used in all the
EU (including Britain) and Switzerland. See the second
external link below for a list.
Respect the 911 system, but do not be intimidated by it.
You will be speaking to a live person--trained to help
you through this emergency.
Remain calm. Take a few deep breaths to relax if you
feel yourself losing control. By remaining calm, you are
best able to provide the dispatcher with the information
that he or she needs to best help you.
Teach your children how to use 911. Practice with a
pretend phone, and make sure they understand it's
important to call 911 only in an emergency!
you do accidentally call 9-1-1 without an emergency, do
not immediately hang up. Stay on the line and let the
operator know that it was an accident, giving your name,
and address. The operator may interpret that the hangup
was done by somebody else.
mentally prepared to follow instructions. Most 9-1-1
centers will be able to provide you with instructions
that will help to ensure the safety of the patient, as
well as yourself (e.g. CPR instructions, the Heimlich
Maneuver). If you are not physically able, or are afraid
to carry out the instructions given to you, try to find
someone else who is with you and can carry out the
nothing else, know the location of your emergency.
Without this information, the dispatcher may not know
where to send the emergency responders. Most phones,
however, are GPS-capable, which means that there is a
chipset in the phone that will help provide location
information to a PSAP when a caller dials 911.
you must use a cell phone, tell them your location as
soon as possible, as you may need to be transferred to
the appropriate call center and have to start over with
a new operator.
9-1-1 is reserved only for true emergency situations in
which there is a definite, likely or uncertain threat to
life, health or property. Be sure to dial 9-1-1 only
when the situation you are reporting requires an
immediate response by police, EMS or the fire
department. Some communities offer an alternative
number, often 3-1-1, for reporting important situations
that do not meet the criteria of requiring an immediate
emergency response, but require an urgent response by
some public safety agency nonetheless. Check with your
local telephone company or municipal government agency
to determine whether such a number exists in your
community, and to find out what it is. Some examples: a
house fire, someone having a heart attack or a robbery
are all situations for which it is appropriate to call
9-1-1. A call for a broken water line, unexpected
disruption of phone or electric service or the infamous
"cat stuck in a tree" are not appropriate 911
calls, unless there are detrimental secondary
consequences (e.g. a family member at home is being
maintained on some form of electrical life support and
the power goes out; the broken water line is rapidly
flooding your house, et cetera). These are obviously
only a few examples, but one should get the idea.
you witness an event that requires an immediate
emergency response, call 9-1-1. It is not a good idea to
assume that someone else will call 911. If everyone
assumed someone else will call 9-1-1, no emergencies
would ever be reported. When you call, try to provide as
much information about the emergency as you can but
never endanger your own well-being to gather info for
the emergency occurs during the night, and there is a
definite address of the location of the emergency [e.g.
your household], be certain that the address is clearly
visible so that First Responders/EMS can easily locate
it is not an emergency, look in the front of your local
telephone book for non-emergency numbers. If a crime
occurred while you were away, for example, you should
use the non-emergency numbers to file a police report.
Educate your children on the proper use of 9-1-1.
a medical condition is not life-threatening and it is
safe to move the victim, consider driving to the
hospital yourself. You will not get preferential
treatment just because you arrived in an ambulance.
Calling 9-1-1 can make you extremely nervous, so before
you ever need to call 911, place a small card on the
wall near your main telephone. Write your name, address,
intersections, and any other information needed on the
card. If you have to phone 9-1-1, read the information
from the card. You might be too nervous to even remember
your name depending on the emergency reason.
Even though it may be difficult, try your best to remain
patient for EMS/Police/Fire personnel to respond to you.
The closest unit to you may still be twenty minutes
away. Calling 9-1-1 back because a unit is not on scene
yet doesn't make them get there sooner and can cause
undue stress on both parties. This does not suggest that
one should never call back 9-1-1; calling back with
further information is always helpful and can provide
you an opportunity to find out where exactly the
ambulance is without upsetting anyone.
Some 9-1-1 centers utilize a CAD (Computer Aided
Dispatching) program that presents the dispatcher with a
"script" that he/she must read to the 911 caller. The
script is a series of questions and is dynamic. Based
upon the answers the caller provides, the script will
adapt itself and allow the dispatcher to gather all of
the necessary information to dispatch emergency
services. It is important to answer the questions asked,
and provide as much information as is requested, whether
it seems relevant or not. If, however, you do have
information that seems relevant, but the dispatcher does
not ask you for it, don't hesitate to mention it when it
is appropriate to do so. Try not to interrupt the
dispatcher when he/she is asking the questions.
Call 9-1-1 yourself. Do not call a friend somewhere else
to call 9-1-1 for you. The emergency line in your area
connects to emergency services in your area and
generally traces your phone number so that help can
arrive sooner. Having somebody else call instead could
make it take longer for help to arrive.
to alert the victim that help is on the way, and comfort
them until the help does arrive.
you have access to a regular telephone, rather than a
cellular phone, try to use the regular telephone. Not
all cell phones are accurately enhanced in all 9-1-1
systems. 9-1-1 can be dialed on most pay phones for
Most 9-1-1 centers have an automatic contingency whereby
if their system is overtaxed and they are unable to
answer incoming 9-1-1 calls, the call is instantly
rerouted to another 9-1-1 center, possibly in another
county (parish). Keep this in mind when providing
directions and so forth, as the call-taker may not be
familiar with the area you are calling about and may not
be able to follow your directions.