Stay calm.

“The more you know what to expect when calling 9-1-1, the faster help can get there.”

One of the first steps in calling 9-1-1 is remaining calm. We understand this can be difficult in an emergency, but the calmer you are, the more clearly you will understand questions and provide answers. Take a deep breath, and communicate clearly.

Watch background noises. These can hamper communications and make it difficult for the dispatcher to hear you. Noises such as screaming, television or radio, and wind, traffic, trains, etc. (if you’re outside) can make it difficult for the dispatcher to understand you.

State your location. If we do not know where you are, we cannot send help. A physical street address is best, but if the address is unknown, give the distance and directions from the nearest commonly known intersection or landmark. If traveling, pay attention to milepost markers on highways to keep abreast of where you’re at.

Tell the dispatcher exactly what is going on. Listen carefully to the dispatchers questions and answer them the best you can. There is a lot of information that is needed to help law enforcement, fire, and EMS determine the amount and type of equipment to respond with. Information is also needed to help responders arrive safely.

Answering questions does not delay a response. In critical emergencies, help is dispatched as soon as a location and incident type has been determined. Further questions are asked so information can be relayed by radio to the responding units. Be patient…the questions are there to help you.

Stay on the line. Do not hang up until the dispatcher instructs you. In active situations, the dispatcher may keep you on the line until help arrives so they can monitor the scene and track that status of suspects.

April is National 911 Education Month. For more information, visit

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