What To Expect When You Call 911

Apr 19, 2021, 5:00 AM | Updated: 6:34 am

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – On average, 240 million Americans call 911 every year, and each of us will likely dial 911 at some point in our lifetime. Here is what to expect if you must make that call.

Stay as calm as possible and take directions from the dispatcher.

First, the dispatcher will ask you the address of the emergency. Look around and know your location. If you don’t know where you are, look for landmarks, street signs or buildings.

There is a reason they ask for your address before anything else.

Over 80% of 911 calls are from cellphones. The dispatcher cannot see where you are when you’re calling from a cellphone. They may receive the location of the closest cellphone tower to your position – which can be several hundred meters away from your location. And imagine if you call from a five-story building – they need to know precisely how to find you.

By getting the address first, they can get help on the way while they gather more information from you.

Next, they will ask for your callback number, just in case you become disconnected.

Finally, they will gather all details of the emergency. Follow the instructions and answer all questions as clear as possible.

You may feel the questions are unnecessary, but the dispatchers are highly trained and will get the pertinent information needed. You can always add any additional information at the end of the call.

Remember, if you or your child accidentally calls 911, don’t hang up. Please stay on the line to verify it was an accident. If you hang up, an officer must respond to check the area for an emergency, taking them away from others that may need help.

More References

911 Statistics — National Emergency Number Association (

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What To Expect When You Call 911