Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Calling 9-1-1

We all need a little refresher every now and then. I've been in the situation where I've thought, " call 9-1-1 or not? IS it an emergency?"

And, it's disheartening to listen to Mr. Lukie tell me stories about the calls he goes on--especially the wake-up calls (usually between 11pm and 5am)--for things like a stubbed toe, a bad dream, or a foot that has fallen asleep. No joke! It makes me think about the *truly* sick people out there who need Emergency Medical Services and are not able to get them in a timely manner because Jane Doe had a bad dream & called 9-1-1.

Many times 9-1-1 Communication Centers are asked what is a 9-1-1 emergency, and when should I call 9-1-1. This article is written to give some basic information on when to call 9-1-1.
You should never call 9-1-1 for non-emergency situations, and this article will hopefully give you some details on what is not an emergency.

Facts - When should you call 9-1-1?
Nine-one-one 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.

Examples of When to Call 9-1-1:
-Heart attack or stroke
-House fire
-Domestic violence
-Burglary or theft in progress
-Car accidents
-Suspicious activities
-Anything else that seems like an emergency or someone’s life or property may be in danger!

Do not call 9-1-1:
-for information when the power is out, 9-1-1 does not know why the power is out, call your local electric company
-to report a broken fire hydrant
-when your water pipes burst
-to get a ride for doctor's appointment
-for paying tickets
-for your pet
-as a prank

Never Prank Call 9-1-1
It's a prank call when someone calls 9-1-1 for a joke, or calls 9-1-1 and hangs up. 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. It's against the law to make prank or misuse the 9-1-1 system. 9-1-1 Dispatchers must call each and every call back when they do not get a voice response from the caller. Dispatchers assume the worst when they do not hear anything on the other end. 9-1-1 call backs often take twice the time as a 9-1-1 call, and prevent dispatchers from taking other calls.

Your Address!
Knowing your address, and teaching your children your address are very important when calling 9-1-1. If you call 9-1-1 from a traditional landline, the 9-1-1 Center receives a fairly reliable address of where you are calling from. The dispatcher will always verify your address. If you call 9-1-1 from your cell phone, the 9-1-1 dispatcher will get a location that comes from the nearest cell phnoe tower, and may not get an exact location of where you are calling from. Some residents have their phone system through a VOIP provider. It is important that if you use a VOIP system, that you make sure your address is always updated. If you use VOIP for business and you travel with it, make sure you change the location each time you check into a hotel. If not, and you have to call 9-1-1 your call will go to your home address 9-1-1 Center.

When you call 9-1-1 you should turn your porch light on so that first responders can easily find your address, it is also helpful to have your house numbers boldy displayed on your house and painted on your curb (if allowed).

(taken from the Heartland Fire website,


  1. Jay Leno just had a thing "stupid 911 calls" guy called to complain that the birds on the phone wire kept pooping on his truck, so the officer told him to move his vehicle elsewhere

  2. I never realized they got such lame calls! I live in close proximity of a station so I'll have a new respect everytime I hear their siren.

    I remember one story where this woman would call everytime she got stuck on the toilet (she was too big for the seat)... poor guys!


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