How 911 Calls are Processed
Read these 911 Tips to learn what to do and not to do!
Step 1: You dial 9-1-1
After dialing 9-1-1 your call is routed to a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP). If you are calling from a landline phone (a phone that plugs into the wall), your call will automatically be routed to the PSAP handling that jurisdiction. The database identifying this routing information is managed by the phone company. If you are calling from a wireless phone, your call is routed to the nearest PSAP based on cell towers. The accuracy of this routing is not always precise; therefore, you should provide 9-1-1 Call Takers with your location as quickly as possible (see the FCC website for more information).
Step 2: We answer
Your call will be answered by a 9-1-1 Call Taker.
“9-1-1, Where is your emergency?” (see KNOW YOUR LOCATION for more information)
After the 9-1-1 Call Taker has received/ verified the location they will ask you additional questions to assess the nature of the emergency.
- What is the emergency/ what is happening?
- The 9-1-1 Call Taker is looking for a brief description of what is happening in order to determine the type of call and who needs to respond (Police, Fire, and/ or Rescue).
- The 9-1-1 Call Taker needs to know the time delay of the incident. This can impact the priority of the call and how units will respond.
- Is the incident in-progress or did it already occur? How long ago?
Step 3: Entering the call
Once the location and nature of the emergency is confirmed, a call for service is entered into the CAD (Computer-Aided Dispatch) System. This allows a unit to be dispatched to the call while the 9-1-1 Call Taker is still asking questions and obtaining more information.
The 9-1-1 Call Taker will continue asking the following questions, if applicable, while STEP 4 is taking place:
- The 9-1-1 Call Taker will ask who needs help, who is the complainant, and/ or who is the suspect. Information can be a name, physical description, vehicle description, and/ or location of the “who.”
- What is your name? Who is doing this? What do they look like? etc.
- The 9-1-1 Call Taker will need to know if there are weapons involved. This question is asked for safety purposes of the units responding and the people at the scene of the incident.
- Are there weapons? What type? Who has the weapon? What do they look like?
- What is happening now?
- The 9-1-1 Call Taker may continue asking for updates or changes in the situation.
- What do you see now? Where are they now? Where are you now? etc.
Step 4: Dispatching the call
Once the 9-1-1 Call Taker accepts the call into CAD, it is routed to the proper dispatcher. If the call for service is for Police, it will be routed to the Police Dispatcher. If the call for service is for Fire or Rescue, it will be routed to the Fire Dispatcher. In some instances the call for service is routed to both the Police and Fire Dispatcher. Calls are dispatched based on importance; therefore, the most serious emergencies will be dispatched first, followed by those with a lower priority.