When 911 is dialed from a landline phone from a home or business, the caller’s location and phone number is sent to that location’s Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP). This allows the 911 call taker to dispatch police, fire or EMS to the caller’s location, even if the caller cannot communicate with the 911 call taker.
Different From Landline Calls
Making wireless 911 calls is different from making a landline 911 call. When a wireless 911 call is made from a cell phone, that call is transmitted to the nearest cell tower. The cell tower then sends that call via landline to the PSAP that is designated to receive 911 calls from that area.
Wireless 911 Calls Issues
The wireless 911 caller must be aware that the PSAP that answers the call may not be the PSAP that services the area that the wireless caller is calling from. Knowing the location is vital to getting the appropriate police, fire or Emergency Medical Services (EMS) units to respond. Issues arise when the nearest cell tower is in a different police, fire or EMS jurisdiction or different county than the one that the wireless 911 caller is calling from. This 911 call has to be transferred to the correct PSAP. This presents life-threatening problems due to the lost response time if the caller is unable to communicate where they are or where the emergency is.
- Do not become irritated if your call is transferred to another PSAP and you are requested to repeat information you may have already given to the previous 911 call taker.
- Do not hang up until your call is answered and the information you have is correctly relayed to the 911 call taker.
- Give an exact street number and street name if possible, or the closest intersections.
- Know the location of the incident. Providing an accurate address is critically important when making a wireless 911 call.
- It is helpful to know your cell phone number, to give to the call taker.
- Provide a business name or landmark if the address is not known.
- It is important to remain calm while on the phone so that the call taker can understand you.
911 Dos & Don’ts
For the what to do and don’t do when you make a phone call to 911 please visit 911 Dos and Don’ts.