Calling 911

911 for Adults

To expedite help, it’s best to be prepared with the following information and use a clear, calm voice. Take a deep breath while calling to focus and calm yourself.

The dispatcher will ask questions to solicit the information needed to send an appropriate response team and keep them informed.

Nature of emergency: Such as vehicle collision, fire, medical or trauma emergency, behavioral emergency, situation requiring law enforcement, or special situation (such as hazardous materials spill or other issue requiring containment or special rescue).

Location of emergency: Be as specific as possible. Examples: The specific area of the building or property, which side of the road or intersection and any instructions for accessing the site including the direction of approach or gate/security codes

A call back number: In case the call is disconnected or responders have trouble finding the site.

Number of people affected and their conditions: This is important so appropriate number of resources can be sent. Helpful basic information to provide include whether the victims are breathing, pulse present and any significant bleeding or other life-threatening injuries.

911 for Kids

When to Call 911

The only time you should call 911 is if a person is badly hurt or in danger right now!

  • Can you call 911 if there's been a car accident? Yes!
  • Should you call if you see a crime, like someone hurting someone else or breaking into a person's house? Of course!
  • What if someone suddenly seems very sick and is having a hard time speaking or breathing or turns blue? Call right away!
  • What if someone collapses or passes out? Absolutely call!
  • What if someone's house is on fire? Definitely call!

Sometimes people are confused about when to call an emergency number like 911. These are examples of when not to call:

  • you can't find your favorite toy or your homework from last night
  • your cat got into a fight with another cat
  • your brother or your friend dares you to call
  • you have a nasty hangnail

NEVER call 911 as a joke or just to see what might happen. When the emergency dispatcher has to take the time to talk to people who don't have a real emergency, other people who call and do need help right away might have to wait. And when you call 911, the operator can tell where you're calling from.

Before an emergency happens, talk to your parents or another adult about when you should call 911. If you're not sure whether there's a real emergency and there are no adults around, it's a good idea to make the call. You could save someone's life.