911 FAQs

What is 9-1-1?
9-1-1 is the number most people in the US and some international countries call to get help in a police, fire or medical emergency. In some places, you may be able to be connected with Poison Control by calling 9-1-1, but you should check with local officials in your area to make sure. A 9-1-1 call goes over dedicated networks to the appropriate 9-1-1 answering point (PSAP) for the caller’s location, and trained personnel then send the emergency help needed.
What is Enhanced 9-1-1?
Enhanced 9-1-1, or E9-1-1, is a system that routes an emergency call to the appropriate 9-1-1 answering point (PSAP) for the caller’s location, and automatically displays the caller’s phone number and address. The 9-1-1 call taker will typically ask the caller to verify the information, which appears on his or her computer screen. In most areas, phone number and location information is available for 9-1-1 calls made from a cellular/wireless phone.
When should you use 9-1-1?

9-1-1 is only to be used in emergency situations. An emergency is any situation that requires immediate assistance from the police/sheriff, the fire department or an ambulance. If you are ever in doubt about whether a situation is an emergency, call 9-1-1. It’s better to be safe and let the 9-1-1 call taker determine if you need emergency assistance.

Do not call 9-1-1:
• For information
• For directory assistance
• When you’re bored and just want to talk
• For paying traffic tickets
• For your pet
• As a prank,
If you call 9-1-1 by mistake, do not hang up. Tell the call taker what happened so he/she knows there really isn’t an emergency.

Why does 9-1-1 staff ask so many questions? Don't they already know where I am when I dial 9-1-1?

Verification of information is critical to ensure that the right resources are sent in the right manner to the correct location of an emergency. We understand that asking specific, often scripted questions may take longer, but very often emergency units have already been dispatched.

The Emergency Services Dispatcher may continue questioning the caller to obtain additional details about the victim, patient or suspect. This additional information may change the response, provide a situational assessment, or provide a scene safety update for the public safety responders. Depending on the call type, pre-arrival instructions may also be given to help the caller help themselves or others before emergency responders get to the scene.

I read where some cities were working on ways to send text messages to 9-1-1. Can I send a text message or the pictures / video I capture on my cell phone to 9-1-1?
While this is something planned for future 9-1-1 systems, the reality is that 9-1-1 centers nationally cannot receive pictures or videos over the current 9-1-1 line infrastructure.
I am considering getting rid of my home phone and only keep a cell phone. Should I do this? What happens if I dial 9-1-1 from my cell phone inside my house?

One of our many roles is to keep abreast of the changing and challenging technology trends in the telecommunications industry. Rice County 9-1-1 Emergency Communications cannot officially support a specific technology (wireline, wireless, V/OIP, etc.). Many people are only using cell phones today, and depending on your needs, you may or may not want to consider this option. One thing to keep in mind is the quality of the cell phone coverage in your home. Does your cell phone work in every room?

Also do you have enough cell phones so that if you’re not home and there is a family emergency, there is a phone to call 9-1-1? Rice County 9-1-1 Emergency Communications is equipped to locate newer cell phones but older analog phones are difficult to track. Cell phone location accuracy is improving every year; however, the location may be within a 50 to 100 meter radius. Therefore, if you are in an apartment building or a multi-story building, 9-1-1 may not get the exact location.

What about 9-1-1 prank calls?
It’s a prank call when someone calls 9-1-1 for a joke or calls 9-1-1 and hangs up. Prank calls not only waste time and money, but can also be dangerous. If 9-1-1 lines or call takers are busy with prank calls, someone with a real emergency may not be able to get the help they need. In most places, it’s against the law to make prank 9-1-1 calls.
What if a 9-1-1 caller is deaf or hearing/speech impaired?

calls have special text telephones for responding to 9-1-1 calls from deaf or hearing/speech impaired callers.

If a caller uses a TTY/TDD, the caller should:
• Stay calm, place the phone receiver in the TTY, dial 9-1-1.
• After the call is answered, press the TTY keys several times. This may help shorten the time necessary to respond to the call.
• Give the call taker time to connect his/her TTY. If necessary, press the TTY keys again. The 9-1-1 call taker should answer and type “GA” for Go Ahead.
• Tell what is needed — police, fire department, or ambulance. Give your name, phone number and the address where help is needed.
• Stay on the telephone if it is safe. Answer the call taker’s questions.

If a deaf or hearing/speech impaired caller does not have a TTY/TDD, he/she should call 9-1-1 and not hang up. This leaves the line open. With most 9-1-1 calls, the caller’s address will then be displayed on the call taker’s screen and help will be sent. ..

Can my group (club) tour the 9-1-1 center?
Yes! We welcome you to visit or tour the Rice County 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Center. In addition, with enough advance notice, we can typically attend community meetings or public relations events if requested.