Here are the ins and outs of calling 9-1-1


The following information about calling 9-1-1 is provided by the Riverside County Fire Department.

An informed caller is 9-1-1’s best caller. It’s important that you know how to help 9-1-1 help you. In an emergency, seconds matter, so being knowledgeable and prepared can make all the difference.

? Know when to call 9-1-1 ? 9-1-1 is for emergencies only. You should only be dialing 9-1-1 if someone is hurt, in danger or if you are in immediate need of police, fire or medical assistance. If you aren’t sure if your situation is an emergency, you should err on the side of safety and call 9-1-1. Let the expert who answers your call make the decision whether to send help or not.

? Know when not to call 9-1-1 ? Don’t call 9-1-1 just because you burned dinner and your guests are arriving any minute, or because you are late for a meeting and need help finding an address. Inappropriate use of the 9-1-1 system wastes resources and ties up the lines at the 9-1-1 center. Not to mention that in most states harassing or making prank calls to 9-1-1 is a crime, and you don’t want law enforcement showing up at your door.

? Know where you are ? This is probably the most important information you can provide as a 9-1-1 caller, so try to be aware of your surroundings. Make a real effort to be as detailed as possible. If you are outside and don’t know the street address, take a look around and try to find landmarks or cross streets. If you are inside a large building or one with multiple levels, you can help emergency services by letting them know which floor you are on, which apartment you are in.

? Stay calm ? When you are on the phone with 9-1-1, you are their eyes and ears. Even though you may want to, try not to panic. If you are crying or yelling, it can be hard for the 9-1-1 operator to understand you. Stay strong, and composed, and answer all of the 9-1-1 operator’s questions.

? The 9-1-1 professionals want to make sure to get the right help on the way to the right location ? Know the capabilities of the device you are using. 9-1-1 can be contacted from almost every device that can make phone calls (traditional landline, cell, VoIP), but the callback and location information that accompanies your call to the 9-1-1 center can vary drastically among technologies and between geographic regions.

? Never hang up. You may have called 9-1-1 by accident, or your situation may have resolved itself, but it is important to let the 9-1-1 operator know this. If you end the call abruptly, the staff at the 9-1-1 center is going to assume that something has gone very wrong and will either call you back or send help anyway. Make sure the 9-1-1 call taker tells you it is okay to disconnect before you hang up. Keep in mind that the call taker can dispatch responders to your location without disconnecting from the call; so, until you are instructed to do otherwise, make sure to stay on the line so that you can provide any necessary information or assistance to the 9-1-1 operator.