Calling 911 For Emergencies
By PIO / Fire Prevention Officer Scot Best
September 27, 2021

The number of 911 calls placed by people using wireless phones has significantly increased in recent years. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) estimates about 70% of 911 calls are placed from wireless phones, and that percentage is growing.

As more people eliminate landline phones from their homes, it’s important to make sure that they adapt their emergency plans to allow for quick access to their mobile phones in the event of a fire.

For many people, the ability to call 911 for help in an emergency is one of the main reasons they own a wireless phone. The prompt delivery of wireless 911 calls to local authorities is essential to promoting public safety. Minutes matter in the event of a fire. If a resident panics and is unable to locate or use the phone to report a fire that time gap could result in a loss of life or property.

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; or
• 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

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.

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; and
• 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

Keep the following tips in mind to ensure that emergency responders can reach you and your loved ones quickly in the event of a fire or other emergency:
• Make a habit to place your cell phone close by in a convenient and consistent location so that it can easily be found.
• Keep cell phones charged at all times.
• Make sure children know to go to a neighbor’s home (or an approved nearby location) to call 911 if they are unable to access a phone in their own home.
• Make sure you (and your children) can provide an address or solid description of your location, even when traveling.
• Tell the emergency operator the location of the emergency right away.
• Provide the emergency operator with your wireless phone number, so if the call gets disconnected, the emergency operator can call you back.

Be prepared to follow any instructions the call-taker gives you. Many 911 centers can tell you exactly what to do to help in an emergency until help arrives, such as providing step-by-step instructions to aid someone who is choking, needs first aid, or CPR.

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

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