When Should I Call 911?

In an emergency, call 911 immediately.

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, such as someone who is unconscious, gasping for air or not breathing, experiencing an allergic reaction, having chest pain, having uncontrollable bleeding, or any other symptoms that require immediate medical attention

Important: If you’re not sure whether the situation is a true emergency, call 911 and let the telecommunicator determine whether you need emergency help.

When you call 911, be prepared to give the location of the emergency, including the street address if possible and answer the telecommunicators questions, which may include:

  • The nature of the emergency

  • The phone number you are calling from

  • Your name

  • Details about the emergency, such as a physical description of a person who may have committed a crime, a description of any fire that may be burning, or a description of injuries or symptoms being experienced by a person having a medical emergency

Remember, these questions are important to get the right kind of help to you quickly. The help you need can be sent by another telecommunicator while you are answering these question.

Finally, do not hang up until the call-taker instructs you to.

Can I Send Text Message To 911?

No, although new technology and regulations are anticipated that will make this possible in the future. In an emergency, dial 911 from a regular or wireless phone to access emergency help.

What If I Dial 911 By Mistake?

If you dial 911 by mistake, or if a child in your home dials 911 when no emergency exists, do not hang up - that could make 911 officials think that an emergency exists, and possibly send responders to your location. Instead, simply explain to the call-taker what happened.