Chances are that you and everyone you know will call for emergency assistance at least once or twice in your lifetime. However, no matter what your emergency is, you will probably experience feelings of anxiety, fear, or loss of control due to the potentially critical situation at hand. This information will hopefully lessen some of the anxiety caused by calling for emergency help by explaining what you, the caller, can expect when dialing an emergency assistance number.

What to expect when you call 911

A professionally trained emergency call taker/dispatcher will answer your call to 911. You must have the composure to answer several questions about the situation as the questions help to determine what emergency services will be sent to your location. Be ready to give medical information and describe any person (male, female, age, height, description of clothing) or vehicle (color, type, last direction of travel) involved in the incident.

Your job, as the caller, is to answer the questions as accurately as possible and to pay particular attention to the call taker’s instructions. Also, since an emergency situation tends to provoke a great deal of anxiety, it’s up to you to remain as calm as possible. Do not argue. Do not lose your patience. Don’t tell the call taker to hurry. They already know that. Every question the call taker asks is important and designed to assist in the most appropriate and timely response to your emergency. The call taker will stay on the line with you as long as the situation dictates. Do not hang up until the call taker says it is okay to hang up. If the connection is lost, for whatever reason, the call taker will try to call you back.

There are other ways you, the caller, can assist. For example, if possible, you should unlock the front door to allow easy access for emergency responders, and put all pets inside a closed room. You may want to turn on the outdoor lights of the residence or business to increase visibility. If outside and aiding a victim of an accident, try to find someone who can flag down the emergency vehicle from a safe distance as it approaches.

Questions to expect

The dispatcher will ask you a series of basic questions:

Once these questions have been answered, more detailed questions will be asked to ensure everything about the situation is obtained.

It's the goal of the Dickinson County Communications Center to ensure an accurate and quick response to the emergency you are reporting, and answering these questions will assist in the proper response.

Why does 911 ask so many questions?

The Dispatcher may only have one opportunity to gather information about the emergency, therefore it is important to get as much information as possible if the situation allows. Address verification and a call back number are crucial.

Also, based on your answers to questions, a more appropriate dispatch of emergency personnel may be provided. For example, a victim injured in a traffic accident that is trapped in a vehicle may elicit a different response from emergency responders than someone who has broken their arm.

Things to remember

General 911 Rules

For Adults

A Checklist