Take the 9-1-1 Pledge to avoid tying up emergency services

Know when —and when not — to call 9-1-1, and what to do if you accidentally ring them

Emergency dispatchers can’t track your precise location when you use a cellphone, so be as specific as possible when telling the 9-1-1 dispatcher where you are. (Photo credit: E-Comm 9-1-1)

Emergency dispatchers can’t track your precise location when you use a cellphone, so be as specific as possible when telling the 9-1-1 dispatcher where you are. (Photo credit: E-Comm 9-1-1)

Last year, E-Comm received more than two million calls to 9-1-1: more than 5,000 calls per day on average. Call volumes are on the rise, and every second that 9-1-1 call takers spend responding to non-urgent or mis-dialed calls, is time they could dedicate to helping someone in a life-threatening emergency.

That’s why knowing when to call 9-1-1, when to call a non-emergency number, and when to call an alternative resource is so important. For that reason, people are asked to take the 9-1-1 Pledge.

By taking the pledge and committing to making the right call, knowing your location, and avoiding accidental calls, you help ensure that critical emergency resources are available for people who need them most.

There are three parts to the 9-1-1 Pledge. The first is making the right call, which means knowing that 9-1-1 is only for life-threatening emergencies where urgent help is needed immediately from police, fire, or ambulance. Getting home and finding an intruder in your house is an emergency, so call 9-1-1 immediately. Getting home and finding that your home has been burgled but the thief is long gone is not an emergency, so don’t call 9-1-1; call your local police non-emergency line.

Also, if something isn’t a police, fire, or ambulance matter, don’t call 9-1-1. If you have general questions or complaints, find an alternative resource to contact.

The second part of the 9-1-1 Pledge is knowing your location. Emergency call-takers can determine precise locations from a landline, but with more and more people using cellphones, it’s important to understand that the call-taker will not be able to pinpoint your exact location. Knowing the address of where you’re at is the best scenario, but town names, landmarks and street names can help first responders find you in an emergency. ‘I’m on Birch Road in X-town’ is better than ‘I’m at Bob’s house.’

Finally, avoid accidental calls to 9-1-1. Keep your cellphone away from young children, and make sure it’s stored properly to avoid pocket dials. If you do accidentally call 9-1-1, stay on the line and explain to the call-taker that the call was made in error and everyone is safe. If you don’t, it will take up valuable time and resources as authorities try to track down where you are and send someone to make sure everything is okay.

9-11Emergency calls