Calling 9-1-1

Calling 9-1-1

What is 9-1-1?

9-1-1 is a location technology advanced by the FCC that will enable mobile, or cellular, phones to process 9-1-1 emergency calls and enable emergency services to locate the geographic position of the caller. When a person makes a 9-1-1 call using a traditional phone with ground wires, the call is routed to the nearest public safety answering point (PSAP) that then distributes the emergency call to the proper services.

How Does 9-1-1 Work?

When you dial 9-1-1, the call goes directly to the Mobile County Communications Center, 7340 Zeigler Boulevard, Mobile, Alabama.

Trained professionals will handle your emergency. Using the enhanced system, your name, telephone number, and address from which you are calling are displayed on a computer screen.

At the time that your call is answered, questions will be asked to verify your address, or the location of the emergency, and the nature of the emergency. Other questions may be asked to determine if any additional emergency units need to respond. The asking of questions does not necessarily delay dispatch of the emergency units.

As they ask their questions, keep your answers as short and direct as possible.

Questions could include:
  • What happened?
  • What is the location?
  • Where are you calling from?
  • What is your name?
  • What is your phone number?

If it is possible and does not compromise your safety, do not hang up the phone until the 9-1-1 call taker says it is okay to hang up.

The 9-1-1 operator will immediately relay the information to a dispatch agency (Police, Fire, Medical) for an emergency response. Should you be disconnected or unable to speak, an emergency unit will be dispatched to the computer listed location.

9-1-1 Cell Phone

When calling 9-1-1 from a cell phone, your location may not automatically display to the 9-1-1 center as it does when calling from most homes or businesses.

People who use a TDD/TTY can also dial “9-1-1” during an Emergency for a Response from their Police or Sheriff’s Dept., from their Fire Dept., or from an Ambulance.

Be Prepared to tell the 9-1-1 Call taker:
  • The location of the emergency – (Address, street intersection, landmarks, city, county, mile marker, etc.)
  • What the emergency is and what type of assistance is needed
  • Your cell phone number
  • Stay calm and speak clearly!
  • Do not hang up until the 9-1-1 calltaker has obtained all of the information that is needed.
  • Since you are calling from a cell phone, your call may be disconnected if the signal is lost.
  • Be sure to call back if you are cut off.
  • When calling 9-1-1 on a cellular phone, be sure to stop if you are in a moving vehicle. It is difficult to obtain all of the information needed if you are getting further from the emergency.
  • Your call may need to be transferred to another agency.

When to Call 9-1-1

Dial “9-1-1” for an Emergency, or any time you need a Response from the Police or Sheriff’s Department, Fire Department, or Medical Service (Ambulance).

When you have a problem of:
  • A serious crime is in progress or one developing
  • A seriously injured and/or sick person(s)
  • All Fires

Stay on the line and try to remain calm. Do Not Hang Up! Some of the questions asked might not seem important, but they are necessary for the Operator to provide you with the best possible service.

If you dial “9-1-1” by mistake, stay on the line and explain what happened. Otherwise, it will be assumed that you have an Emergency, and Police Officers or Deputies will be sent to investigate.

Use 9-1-1 to save a life, report a fire, stop a crime. 9-1-1 is the right number to call in an emergency when a prompt response is needed. There could be a fight or an assault occurring right now, a fire burning, or a medical problem occurring now which could be life threatening.

Do Not Abuse 9-1-1

Children should never be allowed to “play” on the telephone by dialing “9-1-1” or any other numbers. Doing so could tie up telephone lines and prevent someone with an Emergency from getting help quickly.

It is against the law to intentionaly misuse the “9-1-1” system!

Children should be taught how to dial “9-1-1” any time they need help.

When calling for general information you should dial the non-emergency (Agency) telephone numbers, which are listed on the Agencies page or in the blue pages of your telephone directory.

People who use a TDD/TTY can also dial “9-1-1” during an Emergency for a Response from their Police or Sheriff’s Dept., from their Fire Dept., or from an Ambulance.

Do Not Call:
  • Do not call 9-1-1 for road conditions (flooding).
  • Do not call and ask about the weather.
  • Do not call 9-1-1 to ask why traffic is backed up.
  • Do not call 9-1-1 for noise complaints.
  • Do not call 9-1-1 for nuisance complaints.
  • Do not call 9-1-1 for burning permissions.
  • Do not call 9-1-1 for stranded motorist.
  • Do not call 9-1-1 for keys locked in your car.
  • Do not call 9-1-1 for Crimes not in progress.
  • Do not call 9-1-1 for trees down.
  • Do not call 9-1-1 for downed utility poles.
  • Never dial 9-1-1 as a joke! This is a crime and is punishable by law. Calling 9-1-1 unnecessarily an endanger someone else’s life or property when they really do need help.

If you misdial 9-1-1 — don’t just hang up! Explain to the dispatcher you dialed 9-1-1 by mistake.

A person would use a non-emergency (Agency) number for any other situation not listed above.

Serving the Hearing Impaired

Residents who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability can “Texting to 9-1-1”.

People who use a TDD/TTY can also dial “9-1-1” during an Emergency for a response from their Police or Sheriff’s Dept., from their Fire Dept., or from an Ambulance.

In the current 9-1-1 system, deaf and hearing-impaired callers must use a teletypewriter (TTY) text telephone device or a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) to contact 9-1-1 in an emergency. These devices, invented in the 1960s, allow two users to type messages to each other, but are cumbersome and slow to operate. Next-generation 9-1-1 holds particular promise for people with hearing impairments or other disabilities.

TTY devices have generally become less necessary for people with hearing or speech impairments in their day-to-day communications. E-mail, instant messages, video chat and text messages are now much more commonly used for communicating with friends, family members, health-care providers and others. However, because most 9-1-1 PSAPs are accessible only via phone, deaf or speech-impaired people must still use a TTY device or have their messages relayed to a 9-1-1 call-taker by a friend, relative or third-party relay service.

Relay services serving the hearing-impaired community now commonly accept IP-based communications as well as TTY, video relay and other types of calls. As public safety answering points (PSAPs) implement Next Generation technology, there won’t be a need to relay messages to 9-1-1. PSAPs will be able to communicate directly with deaf or hard-of-hearing callers via text messaging and video relay services.