Frequently Asked Questions About 9-1-1

What is 9-1-1?

Nine-one-one (9-1-1) is the number most people in the United States and some other countries call to get help in a police, fire or medical emergency. A 9-1-1 call goes over dedicated phone lines to the 9-1-1 call center closest to the caller, and trained personnel then send the emergency help needed.

What is Enhanced 9-1-1?

Enhanced 9-1-1, or E9-1-1, is a system that routes an emergency call to the 9-1-1 call center closest to the caller AND automatically displays the caller’s phone number and address. Call takers will typically ask the caller to verify the information that appears on their computer screen. In most areas, phone number and location information is available for 9-1-1 calls made from a cellular/wireless phone.

Who pays for 9-1-1?

A small monthly fee for 9-1-1 service is charged for each telephone line that appears on a phone bill. There is no per-call charge for calling 9-1-1. However, EMS/ambulances dispatched through 9-1-1 may charge for taking someone to the hospital; this is a separate ambulance charge, not a 9-1-1 charge.

When should you use 9-1-1?

Use 9-1-1 only in emergency situations: when you need immediate assistance from the local police department, fire department or emergency medical services. When in doubt, you should call 9-1-1. It’s better to be safe and let the 9-1-1 call taker determine if you need emergency assistance.

Do not call 9-1-1:

  • For information or directory assistance
  • When you’re bored and just want to talk
  • To pay traffic tickets
  • To get help for your pet
  • As a prank

If you call 9-1-1 by mistake, do not hang up. Tell the call taker what happened so they know there really isn’t an emergency.


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