Chief of Police
Criminal Investigations Bureau
Police & Community Services Bureau
Informative Items and Resources
In case of emergency, call 911, for immediate assistance.
This is a free call, even from a pay phone. This emergency phone service is provided only for urgent situations such as burglary in progress, shootings, fires, traffic accidents with injuries, someone choking or having difficulty breathing, fighting or the display of weapons.
It is not meant to be used for routine requests for service. The non-emergency number is 927-5200 .
This may prevent someone with a genuine emergency from reaching us quickly, so please use the 911 system with care. Don't waste time, call as soon as you think help is needed, that's what we're here for and every second counts.
911 will provide access to your local emergency agencies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Calling 911 is very stressful and it's easy to feel overwhelmed. 911 call-takers are trained to guide callers through the experience, but knowing what to expect can help make the 911 call go smoothly and get emergency help where and when it's needed.
Know the difference between calling 911 from a land line phone and calling 911 on a cell phone.
Know when to call 911. If you choose to call 911, know what to expect and how to react.
Stay calm. It's important to take a deep breath and not get excited. Any situation that requires 911 is, by definition, an emergency. The dispatcher or call-taker knows that and will try to move things along quickly, but under control.
Start by telling the call-taker what kind of emergency you have.
Wait for the call-taker to ask questions, and then answer clearly and calmly. Even though many 911 centers have enhanced capabilities - meaning they are able to see your location on the computer screen - they are still required to confirm the information. Bear with this line of questioning; you don't want the ambulance to respond to the wrong location.
If you are in danger of assault, the dispatcher or call-taker will still need you to answer quietly, mostly "yes" and "no" questions.
Let the call-taker guide the conversation. He or she is typing the information into a computer and may seem to be taking forever. There's a good chance, however, that emergency services are already being sent while you are still on the line.
In some cases, the call-taker will give you directions. Listen carefully, follow each step exactly, and ask for clarification if you don't understand.
Keep your eyes open. You may be asked to describe victims, suspects, vehicles, or other parts of the scene.
Do not hang up the call until directed to do so by the call-taker.
No matter what happens - Stay Calm.
Cell phones may not tell the call-taker where you are. Know the differences when calling 911 on a cell phone.
If someone calls 911 and doesn't speak or hangs up, emergency services must still be dispatched.
A deep breath.
To know where you are.
When you call 911 in most parts of the country, emergency responders can find you -- even if you don't know where you are or can't communicate. That's because calling 911 from a land line (a telephone connected to the lines on the poles) makes a computer in the dispatch center show the number and address of the phone you're using.
When you make a 911 call on a cell phone, you are sending signals through the air. The tower that picks up your phone's signal may be near, but it isn't enough to tell the dispatcher where to find you. It's like playing "Marco Polo" in the pool - blindfolded with just sound to guide you.
The Federal Communications Commission has required that all wireless carriers be able to pinpoint your location for the 911 dispatchers, but the rule is coming in phases and there are plenty of exceptions.
When you call 911 from a cell phone, the call often lands in a regional center. A call-taker in a far-away city or county may answer your call. To get help to you, there are two pieces of information the call-taker needs to know immediately:
Tell the call-taker which city you're calling from.
Tell the call-taker what type of emergency you have.
Different emergency services use different dispatch centers. With the right information, the call-taker will transfer you to the right center.
Wireless carriers are required to complete 911 calls, even when the phone is not activated. Any phone that turns on and can receive a signal is capable of making a 911 call.
The problem is: if the phone you're using isn't activated, there isn't a phone number assigned to it. That means if you're disconnected from the dispatch center, you must call 911 back. They will not have a way to call you.
Professional call-takers are trained to get information from you. They're staring at a computer screen that has all the relevant questions. Listen carefully, and answer as concisely as possible.
Remember, responders can only respond if they know where they're going. Make sure you get the location as detailed as possible.
The FCC says 30% of all 911 calls come from cell phones. With this simple advice, you can summon the help you need from your cell phone.