Calling 9-1-1

Cell PhoneSooner or later it will probably happen to you.

An inevitable emergency will occur, and you'll need an ambulance, fire equipment or a police officer.

How do you contact the right person?

Just dial 9-1-1 from the nearest telephone.

Do not waste precious seconds by calling your local fire or police station. You will get a much quicker response to your emergency needs by dialing, for both Voice and TTY: 9-1-1.

Please remember, 9-1-1 is only for emergencies. For routine questions or non-emergency situations in Fairfax County, dial 703-691-2131. To report road hazards or ask road-related question, 24/7, call 1-800-FOR-ROAD (800-367-7623).

By dialing 9-1-1 in the northern Virginia area, your call will automatically be routed to the appropriate Emergency Operations Center - Fairfax County's is the Department of Public Safety Communications. When your call is received, highly trained personnel are ready to respond with assistance and will get you the help you need. Learn how to properly use them!

Please follow these simple guidelines:

  • Stay calm - dispatchers can't help you if they can't understand you. Take a deep breath and think before you talk. Speak slowly and clearly.
  • Know your location and tell the dispatcher the exact address (apartment/suite number, intersection, interstate mile markers) where the help is needed.
  • Tell the dispatcher your phone number incase you are disconnected.
  • State the nature of the emergency. Stay on the line to answer further questions the dispatcher may have (Emergency Medical Dispatch).
  • Send someone to meet the emergency equipment if at all possible. It's hard to find an address on a dimly lit street in the middle of the night.
  • Teach your children how to call 9-1-1.  Be sure they know what 9-1-1 is, can dial from your home and cell phone, and trust the 9-1-1 call taker.  Make sure they are physically able to reach at least one phone in your home.  When calling 9-1-1, your children need to know their name, parent's name, telephone number and especially their address.  Tell them to answer all the dispatcher's questions and stay on the phone until they're told to hang up.
  • If you call 9-1-1 even by mistake, do not hang up the phone.  If you call by accident, stay on the line until you can tell the call taker that there is no emergency, so the call taker doesn't have to waste time calling you back or sending police with lights and sirens to check your address for an emergency.
  • Prevent prank calls to 9-1-1.  Prank calls not only waste time; they are illegal in most states and endanger public safety.  If 9-1-1 lines or call takers are busy with prank calls, someone with a real emergency may not be able to get the help they need.  Be sure all members of your household are aware that prank or harassing calls to 9-1-1 will be dealt with by local law enforcement agencies.


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