When to call 911

WhenToCall911
In an emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately from any wired or wireless phone. 
An emergency is any situation that requires immediate assistance from the police, fire department or ambulance. 

Examples include: 
  • A fire. 
  • A crime, especially if in progress. 
  • A car crash, especially if someone is injured. 
  • A medical emergency.
Important: If you’re not sure whether the situation is a true emergency, officials recommend calling 911 and letting the call-taker determine whether you need emergency help.

 What information will you need when you call 911 
Be prepared to answer the call-taker’s questions, which may include:

     The location of the emergency, including the street address. 
     The phone number you are calling from. 
     The nature of the emergency.    
     Details about the emergency. 

Remember: the call-taker’s questions are important to get the right kind of help to you quickly.

Can I call 9-1-1 from my handheld phone while driving?
Yes, it is legal. The law allows a driver to use a wireless telephone to make emergency calls to a law enforcement agency, a medical provider, the fire department, or other emergency services agency.

What is the difference between an emergency call and a non-emergency call?
An emergency call is a life-threatening or potentially life threatening situation, which requires the immediate response of police, fire, or emergency medical responders, such as a traffic collision, drunk driver, crime in-progress, and road hazards. A non-emergency call includes, but is not limited to, non-emergency roadway hazards, a road sign that is down, a late reported traffic collision, etc.
It is not appropriate to call 9-1-1 to ask for directions, check the local weather forecast, to “test” a new wireless phone, or complain about your cable company.

 Why am I asked so many questions when I call 9-1-1?
We require basic information when you call. Because of the nature and limitations of cellular telephones, you must be prepared to give us your location, including address, street, and cross street. If you are on the freeway you need to be able to tell the dispatcher which freeway you are on, the direction of travel and the name of the nearest on or off ramp. You will also need to give the dispatcher a brief description of the emergency. We will ask for your name and the telephone number from which you are calling. We understand your call is urgent. Remain calm, speak clearly and be patient. The details are important in order to assure you receive the appropriate services.