Close

Why are accidental “Pocket Dials” bad for 911?

Unintentional 911 calls divert resources from actual emergencies!

Accidental 911 calls often occur when the phone is carried in a pocket, purse, backpack or other piece of clothing. Some calls are still happening when young children play with cell phones and smart phones. Even old, inactive devices, with the SIM card removed, can be used to make 911 calls.

For every unintentional call or pocket dial, a communications officer has to determine whether an emergency actually exists and if emergency services should be dispatched. Two police officers will attend the location where the call was made from.

If you place an unintentional 911 call stay on the line and let the communications officer know it was unintentional. To prevent pocket dials or unintentional calls please use the keypad lock device to prevent a mobile device from responding to keystrokes until the user unlocks the keypad with a password.


What does a 911 call sound like?

Click for a sample 


I don’t speak English. Can I still call 911?

Yes!

Our 911 call taker can add on an interpreter through the use of a language line service. The language line service offers translations in more than 140 languages!

A non-English speaking caller may hear a short conversation in English and some clicking sounds as an interpreter is added to the 911 call.


How can I call 911 if I’m hearing or speech impaired?

We have special text telephones for responding to 911 calls from hearing and speech impaired callers.

 

If a caller uses TTY/TDD, the caller should:

  • Stay calm, place the phone receiver in the TTY and dial 911.
  • After the call is answered, press the TTY keys several times. This may help shorten the time necessary to respond to the call.
  • Give our call taker time to connect their TTY. If necessary, press the TTY keys again. Our 911 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 our call taker’s questions.

**If a hearing or speech impaired caller does not have a TTY/TDD, the caller should call 911 and not hang up. Not hanging up leaves the line open. The address will be displayed to our 911 call taker and help will be sent.

Read more here.


If I need assistance, but it’s not an emergency, what number do I call?

If you need assistance, but it is not of an emergency nature, please call our non-emergency line at (540) 382-4343.


What should I do if I call 911 by mistake?

If you call 911 by mistake, DO NOT HANG UP. Stay on the line and explain that you do not actually have an emergency. If a 911 caller hangs up without stating a problem, the caller must be contacted in order to ensure that no actual emergency exists. This may involve the dispatching of an officer to your home or place of business to ensure that a problem does not exist. One common misconception that citizens have about dialing 911 by mistake is they will somehow get into trouble. This is not true!


What type of questions will be asked?

The Location

The 911 call taker will answer the phone with “NRV 911, Where is your emergency?” We must verify the accurate location since individuals may call 911 from locations other than where the incident is occurring.

If you call 911 from a cell phone, the location information is not presented with a fixed location or physical address. Location information from a wireless phone is different than calling from a traditional “landline” phone. The information will appear as an approximate location and display a latitude and longitude based on network capabilities. Emergency calls from wireless phones are routed to the nearest 911 Center based on the cellular tower receiving your signal and not your actual location. Therefore, you may not automatically route to the appropriate 911 center and a transfer will be required.

ALWAYS provide your location along with additional details that are necessary for dispatching the appropriate emergency responders. This includes your name and phone number in the event a call back is required. If you do not know the physical address for your location, provide information such as the street name, mile marker, along with any recognizable landmarks around you.

The Problem

The 911 call taker will ask you to provide a quick description of what occurred. They will continue to ask a series of questions which are extremely important to the safety of everyone and the proper dispatch of emergency responders. These may include:

  • How long ago did the incident occur?
  • Does anyone need medical attention? If so, are they conscious and breathing?
  • Were there any weapons involved and if so, what type and description?
  • Did the suspect flee? If so, which direction and can you provide a physical description?
  • What was the mode of transportation; a car, bike or on foot?
  • If a vehicle was involved, what was the description and what was the direction of travel?

Although these may seem like an unreasonable number of questions during an emergency, they are very important to emergency personnel. For example, if a burglary has just occurred and the suspect flees, the officers have a much better chance of apprehending the suspect if they have a good description of the suspect and the direction that was taken. More important, if the incident in question involved a weapon, it is critical to obtain this information for the safety of our officers and emergency responders.

It is very important that you stay on the line during a 911 call unless your life is threatened by doing so. The 911 call taker will continue to ask crucial questions while the emergency responders have been dispatched.


What should you do when you call 911?

Stay calm and state your emergency.

Speak loudly and clearly. Give the 911 call taker the address where help is needed, along with your name and phone number.

Answer the call taker’s questions. Stay on the telephone if it is safe to do so, and do not hang up until the call taker tells you to.


When should you call 911?

Dial 911 when there is an imminent threat to life, health or property. An example of an emergency is:

  • Reporting suspicious or criminal activities such as an assault, burglary, robbery, prowler, etc.
  • Requesting an ambulance for any medical emergency
  • Reporting a fire, smoke or fire alarm
  • Any other potential life threatening situation such as a traffic accident with injuries

How does 911 work?

When you call 911, your call is received by a trained 911 call taker within the regional center. In order to correctly assess the situation, you will be asked specific questions which are vital to the proper response and safety of the caller and emergency response units. The appropriate police, fire and/or medical units for the location of the emergency will be notified and dispatched.


What is 911?

911 is a three digit telephone number you can call 24 hours a day for police, fire and medical emergencies.