Emergency Calls

Calling 911 in an emergency

You should call 911 when there’s a threat to someone’s health, life, safety or property and emergency help is needed right away. 

What to expect
A 911 Call Taker will answer the call with, “911, what is your emergency?” It is important to stay on the line with the Call Taker and answer all questions.

Expect to be asked for:

  • Type of emergency
  • Your phone number
  • The community or location of the emergency

You will then be transferred to the appropriate emergency agency for response.

No-voice calls
All no-voice calls are presumed to be an emergency until determined otherwise. A no-voice call is when someone calls 911 and the telephone line is open and no one is speaking. 

No-voice calls can happen for many different reasons, like: 

  • Caller is unable or unwilling to speak, or is unconscious. 
  • Caller doesn’t understand the language spoken by the 911 Call Taker.
  • The call is from a Teletype (TTY) device, used by people who are deaf or hard of hearing, or have a speech impairment.
  • Caller is a registered user of Text with 911 (T911).
  • The caller accidentally dialed 911. 

The procedure followed by 911 Call Takers for no-voice calls to determine if it’s an emergency situation is as follows:

  • The 911 Call Taker will ask, “Are you able to speak freely”? 
    • If the caller answers “No”, then the call is treated as an emergency.
    • If there is still no answer, the 911 Call Taker will determine if the caller is a registered T911 user. If so, the 911 Call Taker will initiate a text with the caller to determine the type of emergency and the location.
    • If the caller is not a registered T911 user and there is still no answer, then the 911 Call Taker must listen for anything in the background that can help determine the nature of the call and proceed accordingly.
  • If the call is determined to be related to an emergency situation and the caller is not T911 registered, or if there is any doubt by the 911 Call Taker, a call trace will be completed to determine the location of the caller.
  • Once the location is determined, the 911 Call Taker will contact the police and provide the details related to the no voice call, including the caller’s location.

Calls from individuals who are deaf, late deafened, hard of hearing or have a speech impediment
There are three ways that 911 can assist people who are deaf, late deafened, hard of hearing or have a speech impediment with getting emergency help:

  1. Individuals who are deaf, late deafened, hard of hearing or have a speech impediment can register for Text with 911 (T911) with their cellular provider. This allows 911 Call Takers to communicate via text with T911 registered users after a voice call to 911 is made.
  2. Each 911 Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) currently operates a TeleTypewriter (TTY) for people who use TTY technology. A TTY is a device that allows a person to type their messages directly to a 911 Call Taker who is operating the TTY.
  3. If a person who is deaf, deafened, hard of hearing or has a speech impediment, and has no access to TTY or T911, they can call 911 for help on a landline telephone or cell phone. When calls are received where there is no voice response or difficulty understanding the caller, the 911 Call Taker will complete a call trace to determine the location of the caller and assist with contacting police for that location. Registering for T911 will help the 911 Call Taker notify the appropriate emergency response agencies in a more timely manner.

If possible the caller is encouraged to keep repeating the following information:

  • they need help from the police, fire or ambulance,
  • the phone number they are calling from,
  • the address or location of the emergency.

It is essential that these callers remain on the line and repeat the vital information (if possible) so that the 911 Call Taker can identify the correct agency to respond for the area and assist with contacting those emergency responders for help. People who have communication disabilities are encouraged to make any noise to indicate help is needed. For these calls the 911 Call Taker will complete the call trace and assist with contacting emergency help.