What to Say When You Call 911

What to Say When You Call 911

In an emergency situation, calling 911 can be a crucial step in obtaining the help you need. However, it is important to remember that the information you provide to the emergency dispatcher can greatly impact the response time and effectiveness of the emergency services. To ensure a smooth and efficient process, here are some guidelines on what to say when you call 911.

1. Stay calm and speak clearly: When calling 911, it is important to remain calm and speak clearly. Take a deep breath and try to provide the necessary information in a composed manner. This will help the dispatcher understand your situation and relay the information accurately to the emergency responders.

2. Provide your location: The first and most important piece of information to provide is your location. Be as specific as possible, including the street name, building number, and any additional landmarks or details that can help emergency services locate you quickly. If you are unsure of your exact location, provide near landmarks or intersections that can assist in identifying your whereabouts.

3. Describe the emergency: Clearly describe the nature of the emergency. Whether it is a medical issue, a fire, or a crime in progress, provide as much detail as possible. Describe the situation, the number of people involved, any visible injuries, or any other pertinent information that can help the dispatcher assess the severity of the situation.

4. Follow the dispatcher’s instructions: The dispatcher is trained to handle emergencies and will provide you with instructions on how to handle the situation until help arrives. Listen carefully and follow their guidance. They may ask you to perform life-saving techniques, such as CPR, or provide advice on how to keep yourself and others safe.

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5. Stay on the line: It is crucial to stay on the line with the dispatcher until they tell you it is safe to hang up. They may need additional information or provide you with updates on the responding units. Even if you think the situation has resolved itself, it is always best to wait for confirmation from the dispatcher before ending the call.

6. Don’t exaggerate or lie: While it is important to provide accurate information, it is equally crucial not to exaggerate or lie about the situation. Do not fabricate details to make the emergency seem more severe than it actually is. This can lead to unnecessary allocation of resources and delay assistance to those who truly need it.

7. Remain available for follow-up questions: After the initial call, emergency services may need to follow up with additional questions or clarification. Ensure that you remain available and provide a phone number where you can be reached. This will help the emergency services gather all the necessary information and ensure a comprehensive response.


1. What happens if I accidentally call 911?
If you accidentally call 911, do not hang up. Stay on the line and explain to the dispatcher that it was a mistake. Hanging up can result in a callback or a visit from emergency services to verify your safety.

2. Can I call 911 for non-emergencies?
911 should only be used for genuine emergencies. For non-emergency situations, consider contacting the non-emergency number for your local police or fire department.

3. What if I can’t speak when I call 911?
If you are unable to speak, the dispatcher will listen for background noises or any indication of distress. They may also ask you to press a specific number on your phone to confirm if you need emergency assistance.

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4. Can I text 911?
Texting 911 is available in some areas. Check with your local emergency services to determine if this option is available in your location.

5. What if I’m not sure if it’s an emergency?
If you are unsure whether the situation is an emergency, it is better to err on the side of caution and call 911. The dispatcher can help assess the situation and determine the appropriate response.

6. Can I call 911 for someone else?
Yes, you can call 911 on behalf of someone else if they are unable to do so themselves. Provide the dispatcher with accurate information about the person’s location, the nature of the emergency, and any relevant details.

7. What if I accidentally call 911 and hang up?
If you accidentally call 911 and hang up, the dispatcher will attempt to call you back. If they cannot reach you, they may send emergency services to your location to ensure your safety.

In emergency situations, every second counts. Knowing what to say when you call 911 can make a significant difference in the response time and effectiveness of emergency services. By staying calm, providing accurate information, and following the dispatcher’s instructions, you can help ensure a swift and appropriate response to your emergency.

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