WHEN YOU CALL 9-1-1
Make sure it is an emergency! You should only call 9-1-1 if someone is hurt or in danger, or if you are in immediate need of police, fire, or medical assistance.
Always know your location! This is the most important information you can provide to a 9-1-1 call taker.
Don't hang up! Even if you called 9-1-1 by mistake, if you end the call abruptly or don’t answer a call-back, then the call taker will likely assume that something is wrong and will either continue to try and reach you or dispatch field responders to your location. This takes away from the 9-1-1 center’s ability to take calls and dispatch services to ongoing emergencies, so make sure the 9-1-1 call taker tells you it is ok to disconnect before you hang up.
Stay calm. When you are on the phone with 9-1-1, you are their eyes and ears. The better you can answer all of the 9-1-1 call taker’s questions, the faster he or she can get the right services to your location.
Call if you can, text only if you can't
Text-to-9-1-1 provides many significant benefits, especially in cases when the caller cannot communicate verbally. For example, text-to-9-1-1 is very useful to the approximately 43 million Americans who are hard of hearing, deaf, or speech-impaired. Text-to-9-1-1 also helps in situations when a crime is in process, the caller is facing domestic abuse, or the caller is injured and cannot speak.
However, it is strongly recommended that you place a traditional voice call to 9-1-1 whenever possible. In short, call if you can, text only if you can’t!
If you try and send a text message to 9-1-1 but the service is not yet available in your area, you will receive an automatic “bounce-back” message directing you to use another method to contact emergency authorities.
The 1-1-2 Myth
Every few months, we see social media posts encouraging people to call 1-1-2 instead of 9-1-1. The posts claim that 1-1-2 is especially effective if you are being pulled over in your car and want to ensure that you are dealing with the police. It also claims that by dialing 1-1-2, your call will be answered faster and may go directly to the police.
Don’t believe it!
While dialing 1-1-2 (the European emergency number) in the United States may work on certain devices and on certain wireless networks, the only way to ensure that your call for emergency assistance gets through is to dial 9-1-1. When a caller tries to use 1-1-2 in the United States, the call may not go through. Even if it does, 1-1-2 provides no special emergency call handling – in fact, it adds a delay due to it having to be converted to "9-1-1” and then routed to the appropriate 9-1-1 call center.
No one should ever call 1-1-2 just to "test” if it works; you’ll tie up public safety resources and waste valuable time for people facing real emergencies.
The bottom line is that anyone calling for emergency assistance in the United States or Canada should always dial 9-1-1 for the fastest and most effective response.