What is 9-1-1?
9-1-1 (pronounced Nine-One-One) is a three-digit phone number set
aside for use as to report emergencies throughout the United States.
While 9-1-1 is not available everywhere, it is hoped that in the near
future you could go anywhere in the United States, and by dialing
9-1-1 will reach the correct agency when you have an emergency,
without having to look up a phone number.
Why was the number 9-1-1 selected?
The number selected to be used on a nationwide basis could not be one
that was being used as an area code or the first three digits of a
phone number, and needed to be easy to remember. Numbers for special
services offered by the phone companies were three digit numbers
(411, 611, etc).
When do I call 9-1-1?
Not every single type of situation could be listed here, but whenever
you have an emergency or problem that requires immediate assistance
from Law Enforcement Agencies, Fire Departments, or Emergency Medical
Services, then you should dial 9-1-1. If you or another person is in
danger or in possible danger, then you should call.
Does this mean I can call 9-1-1 any time I
need to reach the Police Department, Fire
Department, or EMS?
NO! Business related calls, asking for information, needing to speak
with a member of one of these departments, checking on when you have
to appear in court, asking where to pay traffic fines, questions
about an EMS bill are examples of people who have abused the 9-1-1
service in other areas. This is not only just an annoyance, it can
interfere with the 9-1-1 personnel trying to quickly answer and help
people who have an emergency. Then how do I reach these other
departments? You need to look up the number in the white pages of
your telephone directory, under the name of your city or county. The
numbers listed on the inside cover of your phone books are Emergency
Numbers. I pay the phone company for an unlisted number.
Does this mean that anyone who works at
9-1-1 can find out my phone number or address?
NO! The phone number and address information is stored in computers
that remain under the control of Bell South. We will not see your
phone number or address unless YOU dial 9-1-1. In that case, you are
telling us you want us to know where you are because you need help.
Your privacy is secure, because we can not just "look up"
your phone number or address.
Does this mean I can just dial 9-1-1 and say
(for example), "I have a fire", and hang up?
While this would certainly get a fire truck to your location, it is
not in your best interests, or ours. Personnel answering 9-1-1 need
other information as well as ask where you are located. We never rely
on the displayed information totally unless that is all we have to go
on. Other information is vital and must be relayed by the 9-1-1
personnel to the Police, Sheriff, Fire, or EMS units so that they can
be prepared to handle your emergency immediately upon their arrival.
Never place yourself in more danger by staying on the phone when you
can't. If the flames are racing across the house you're in...then, YES!
GET OUT! Descriptions of suspects in law enforcement cases are
critical. The responding police officer just might pass a person or
vehicle, but won't know it is the suspect until they get to you,
unless you help us out by giving a description.
What do I say when I call 9-1-1?
Tell the person answering briefly what is wrong. Briefly is the key
word! "My house is on fire, or I hear someone sneaking around
my house, or I'm having chest pains" are brief descriptions.
At that point the person answering your call will start asking
questions. To a person who is upset, this becomes extremely
frustrating, because they are not aware that most of the time another
person is already sending help to you. The additional information
that you are being asked for is provided to the police, fire or EMS
personnel by radio. Your call for help is not being delayed.