Many 911 call centers follow protocols that guide callers through a sequence of questions to quickly obtain information necessary for dispatching the right responders to the right location. Call-takers may also provide instructions about what to do until help arrives. Follow these instructions and do not hang-up until instructed to do so. Questions may include:
- Address of emergency
- Phone number you are calling from
- Nature of emergency
- Details about emergency: description of people, hazard, sypmtoms/injuries involved.
Not in Milwaukee County. Access to 911 through text messaging is significantly limited across the U.S., although efforts are underway to accept text messages at call centers nationwide. If you need emergency assistance, it is always best to call 911 from a landline or wireless phone. Even if text-to-911 services are available in your market, a voice call remains the best way to reach 911. If text-to-911 services are not available in your community, you should receive a bounceback message.
If you dial 911 by mistake, or if a child in your home dials 911 when no emergency exists, DO NOT HANG UP – that could make 911 officials think that an emergency exists, and possibly send responders to your location. Instead, simply explain to the call-taker what happened.
All wireless phones, even those that are not subscribed to or supported by a specific carrier, can be used to dial 911. However, these uninitialized phones are often used to place malicious or fake calls to 911 call centers. These calls are a burden on the 911 system because they require the answering center to confirm whether or not an emergency truly exists. Oftentimes, parents provide these uninitialized wireless phones as toys to young children, unaware that if the child dials 911, a live call will be connected with the local 911 call center.
Teaching children appropriate uses of the 911 system is as important as teaching them how to place a 911 call. For more information, visit 911 for Kids. Parents should also be aware that wireless phones without a current calling plan through a wireless provider are still capable of connecting a call to a local 911 center. Children should be told not to dial 911 from these old or uninitialized phones.
When calling 911, it is important to know your location and be able to provide 911 with the correct address and closest cross streets or landmarks. If you would like to contact your local 911 call center to confirm the address that correlates with your phone number is correct, do not dial 911. Rather, contact your local public safety answering point (PSAP) or call center through its non-emergency, 10-digit phone number. Explain that you do not have an emergency but would like to request the local 911 call center’s non-emergency 10-digit number.