9-1-1 is the telephone number you dial when you need Police, Fire, or Medical service
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 a risk to a person or property where immediate help is needed!
Don’t call 9-1-1 For information For directory assistance Because you’re bored and want to talk to someone
Never call 9-1-1 as a prank You must never call 9-1-1 as a joke, or call 9-1-1 and hang 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. If you call 9-1-1 and hang up, or as a joke, you may find an officer outside your door.
When you dial 9-1-1, always remember the following
Answer all questions
Follow the instructions you are given
Don’t hang up until the 9-1-1 Telecommunicator tells you to
But what does that really mean? Let’s break it down.
When you dial 9-1-1, the call-taker is going to ask you questions to determine three very important things:
Where are you?
Who are you?
What is the Emergency?
Pinpointing your exact location is essential to sending the appropriate emergency responders to help you. To find out where you are, the 9-1-1 call-taker will ask for the address that you are located at and nearest cross-streets or intersections to you. The 9-1-1 call-taker may also ask you for any descriptions of where you are, such as color of the house, color or type of vehicle in the driveway, or for any businesses nearby. It is never too early to begin teaching your children their address and telephone number! Repetition is the key! It is also extremely important to establish who is calling. This information is gathered by asking for your name and for you to verify the telephone number you are calling from. This way, if the call is disconnected, the 9-1-1 call-taker can re-establish communication with you. Determining the nature of your emergency is the third piece of essential information that a 9-1-1 call-taker will need from you. Briefly and accurately describing the problem will help the 9-1-1 call-taker understand if you need police, fire, or medical services. This information is then passed on to the emergency responders when they are dispatched, and helps them determine how they should respond, such as deciding what equipment may be needed and how many emergency responders should be sent.
Is help coming? Yes! Help is on the way! You may feel frustrated by the many questions that you are being asked on a 9-1-1 call, particularly on calls for an ambulance. But you may rest assured that while one 9-1-1 team member is talking to you, another team member is sending out the appropriate emergency response service. At C.C.E. Central Dispatch, we take a team approach to handling calls whenever possible to ensure the fastest, safest, and most accurate service we can provide.
When you dial 9-1-1 from a landline, or a hard-wired telephone, enhanced identification information, provided by your telephone company, is sent with your 9-1-1 call to our Dispatch Center.
This information includes the name of the telephone account owner, the street address and city or township the telephone is located, and an Emergency Service Number (ESN) to determine emergency response areas and jurisdictions.
The 9-1-1 call-taker will ask you to verify this information each time you dial 9-1-1. This is to ensure the information’s accuracy. If any of the information is determined to be incorrect, the 9-1-1 call-taker will instruct you to contact your telephone company to correct the information, and will submit a trouble-ticket for correction to the national 9-1-1 database.
Cell phones bring new challenges to us all in terms of location when placing 9-1-1 calls. As you read above, when you call from a landline telephone, the telephone is in a fixed location, and therefore the address and your location are known and do not change. With cell phones, the call could be coming from anywhere, and it becomes that much more important for you to know your location!
Cellular providers are required to provide location information with outgoing 9-1-1 calls in one of two ways:
Triangulation using cellular communication towers
Using this information in conjunction with an enhanced computerized mapping system, in most cases the 9-1-1 call-taker can determine where you are calling from.
Can you text to 9-1-1?
YES! In August of 2017 our Tri-County Disptach Center started accepting 911 text messages. It’s a great tool for those with a hearing impairment, because it gives them a chance to communicate with 911 during an emergency. This new feature will also help those in a critical situation, such as domestic abuse, a home invasion, or perhaps someone lost in the woods with little cell phone reception. Call if you can, Text if you can’t.
Old Cell Phones & 9-1-1 Only Phones
Did you know that your old cell phones are still capable of dialing 9-1-1? Deactivated cell phones, or phones without a cellular plan are still able to dial 9-1-1. They become what are commonly known as “9-1-1 ONLY Phones.” As long as the phone’s battery is charged, the phone will place 9-1-1 calls. However, 9-1-1 Only Phones are not able to transmit location information with the outgoing call. Therefore, if you are using an old phone for emergency purposes only, it is extremely important that you know where you are, and are able to clearly communicate your exact location when placing a 9-1-1 call.
With the latest and greatest cell phones hitting the shelves at lightning speed, many consumers replace their current cell phone with the newest models every year or two. Most of us won’t need more than one 9-1-1 Only Phone in our Emergency Preparedness kits. So what should you do with your old phones? Many cellular providers offer a recycling program for old phones. In Northern Michigan, old cell phones can also be donated to community service groups like the Women’s Resource Center. Furthermore, you should not give your old cell phones to your children as play-toys. This creates problems for 9-1-1 centers when children find that their “toy” actually calls someone; your local 9-1-1 Center. These calls tie up valuable 9-1-1 lines and may prevent someone with an actual emergency from receiving the help they need quickly.