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What is 911?

Nine-one-one is the number most people in the U.S. and some in International countries call to get help in a police, fire or medical emergency. 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. In most areas each household and business pays a small monthly fee for 9-1-1 service that appears on their phone bill. There is no per-call charge for calling 9-1-1.

How do I make a 911 call?

In an emergency, dial 9-1-1 on your phone. It's a free call. Nine-one-one (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 of whether a situation is an emergency you should call 9-1-1. Do not call 9-1-1 for information, directory assistance, when you're bored and want to talk, for your pet or as a prank. Stay calm and state your emergency. Speak loudly and clearly. Give the 9-1-1 call taker your name, phone number and the address where help is needed. Answer the call taker's questions. Stay on the telephone if it's safe to do so, and don't hang up until the call taker tells you to.

Calling 911 for the Hearing Impaired

9-1-1 call takers are trained to answer emergency calls from persons who are deaf, deaf/blind, hard of hearing or speech impaired.

If you use a TTY/TDD, you should:

-Stay calm, using your TTY dial 9-1-1.

-You may receive a quicker response from 9-1-1 by pressing any of the TTY keys a few times.

-Give the call taker time to connect their TTY. If necessary, press the TTY keys again. The 9-1-1 call taker should  answer and type "GA" for Go Ahead.

-Tell what type of help is needed-police, fire department, or ambulance. Give your name, phone number and the  address or location where help is needed.

-Stay on the telephone if it is safe. Answer the call taker's questions.

If you do not have a TTY/TDD or access to relay services, you should dial 9-1-1, preferably from a landline phone. With 9-1-1 calls made from a landline phone, the caller's address is displayed on the call taker's screen. Do not hang up; keep the line open so that the call taker can listen for background noise. If you must call from a cell phone, leave the line open. Call from cell phones may display your approximate location.

911 Stats

An estimated 240 million calls are made to 9-1-1 in the U.S. each year. In many areas, 70% or more are from wireless devices.

Alamosa Regional Communication Center 911 Calls

June 2016

Landline  344

Wireless  1860

Total        2204  (Average of 73.4 911 calls per day!)

July 2016

Landline  426

Wireless  2225

Total        2651  (Average of 85.5 911 calls per day!)

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Cell phones & 911

While wireless phones can be an important public safety tool, they also create unique challenges for emergency response personnel and wireless service providers. Since wireless phones are mobile, they are not associated with one fixed location or address. While the location of the cell site closest to the 911 caller may provide a general indication of the caller's location, that information is not always specific enough for rescue personnel to deliver assistance to the caller quickly.

-Tell the emergency operator the location of the emergency right away.

-Provide the emergency operator with your wireless phone number, so if the call gets disconnected, the emergency operator can call you back.

-PSAPs currently lack the technical capability to receive texts, photos and videos.

-If your wireless phone is not "initialized" (meaning you do not have a contract for service with a wireless service provider), and your emergency call gets disconnected, you must call the emergency operator back because the operator does not have your telephone number and cannot contact you.

-To help public safety personnel allocate emergency resources, learn and use the designated number in your state for highway accidents or other non life-threatening incidents (States often reserve specific numbers for these types of incidents. For example, "#77" is the number used for highway accidents in Virginia.)

-Refrain from programming your phone to automatically dial 911 when one button, such as the "9" key, is pressed. Unintentional wireless 911 calls, which often occur when auto-dial keys are inadvertently pressed, cause problems for emergency call centers.

-If your wireless phone came pre-programmed with the auto-dial 911 feature already turned on, turn this feature off (consult your user manual for instructions).

-Lock your keypad when you're not using your wireless phone to help prevent accidental calls to 911.

-Consider creating a contact in your wireless phone's memory with the name "ICE" (In Case of Emergency), which lists the phone numbers of people you want to have notified in an emergency.

VoIP Phones & 911

Portable interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services can be used from virtually any Internet connection anywhere, which raises challenges for the emergency services community in determining the location from which a 911 call has originated.

You should be aware that:

-VoIP 911 calls may not connect to the PSAP, or may improperly ring to the administrative line of the PSAP, which may not be staffed after hours, or by trained 911 operators.

-VoIP 911 calls may correctly connect to the PSAP, but not automatically transmit the user's phone number and/or location information.

-VoIP customers may need to provide location or other information to their VoIP providers, and update this information if they change locations, for their VoIP 911 service to function properly.

-VoIP service may not work during a power outage, or when the Internet connection fails or becomes overloaded.

If you have or are thinking of subscribing to an interconnected VoIP service, you should:

-Provide your accurate physical address to your interconnected VoIP service provider to ensure that emergency services can quickly be dispatched to your location.

-Be familiar with your VoIP service provider's procedures for updating your address, and promptly update address information in the event of a change.

-Have a clear understanding of any limitations of your 911 service.

-Inform children, babysitters and visitors about your VoIP service and its 911 limitations, if any.

-If your power is out or your Internet connection is down, be aware that your VoIP service may not work. Consider installing a backup power supply, maintaining a traditional phone line or having a wireless phone as a backup.

-If you have questions about whether the phone service you are receiving is an interconnected VoIP service, contact your service provider for further information.

-PSAPs currently lack the technical capability to receive texts, photos and video.

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