*When should I call 9-1-1?
Dial 911 to report a medical emergency, an immediate threat or a crime in progress. Try to remain calm. Listen to what the Dispatcher asks you. Give direct answers. Don't place yourself in danger to report a crime. Get to a safe place first, then call 911. If your call is not immediately answered, don't hang up and try again. The Dispatcher will attempt to call you back when you hang up and that will waste valuable time. Don't hang up until you are directed to disconnect by the Dispatcher. If you accidentally dial 911, don't hang up thinking you can stop the call from going through. The system is designed specifically for instances when a caller might be interrupted in their attempt to reach 911, and the call will go through anyway.
Don't call 911 for information or when you can't remember the number for the non-emergency line. There are better ways to find that information. Use a phone book or the internet. If you need the number for another agency, do not call 9-1-1 for it, the number to use is 4-1-1. Save 9-1-1 for when it really counts.
*Tips for cell phone users.
Remember to lock your keys if your cell phone is in a pocket or a purse and do not give your cell phone to a child to play with. It is not a toy. All cell phones, including phones without service, can dial 911 as long at they have a battery.
*If you call 9-1-1 with a cell phone will your location be accurate?
The accuracy of the call is determined by the phone service provider's equipment, not the Dispatch Center. The service provider can use either the GPS coordinates of the phone or triangulation of tower signals or a combination of both to deliver location. The caller's location, the surrounding terrain, tower capacity and signal strength all make a difference to location accuracy. If the caller is inside a structure such as a metal building, concrete, or other dense material it will obstruct the signal and your location will not be as accurate. Don't assume the Dispatch will know where you are.
*Can I text to 9-1-1?
You may have heard that Black Hawk County can do text messages to 9-1-1. That is still in the testing phase and works only if you are in Black Hawk County when you send the text and if you have iWireless as your service provider. Texting to 9-1-1 in today's environment is not what we refer to as 911. It uses [SMS] short message service to establish a text conversation between the caller and the 9-1-1 operator. It is contingent on both the phone service provider and the Dispatch Center having the equipment capable of SMS technology. It does not deliver a location of the caller, and you must wait for the Dispatcher to send a text back and then wait for the caller to respond with a text, they are not a two-way voice communication in real-time and it can experience significant delivery delays. Because of this, texting is not recommended as a means of reaching a 9-1-1 Center.
Teach your children how to use whatever device you have [remember with a cell phone you have to hit the send button] and when to call 9-1-1 and when not to call 9-1-1.
That there are consequences for playing a prank with 9-1-1 and it should be used for emergencies only. Help ensure 9-1-1 is only used for what it is intended for - emergencies.