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Cell Phones, VoIP, And 9-1-1

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Calling 9-1-1 from a Cell Phone

 Not all wireless 9-1-1 calls provide location information. Cell phones do not always direct you to the proper agency. If this happens, remain patient and wait for the calltaker to transfer you. To get help quickly, please be ready to answer these questions:

Where is the emergency?

Know your location. Cell phones cannot give your exact location. Use highway name, direction of travel, mile markers, intersection, landmarks, etc.

What number are you calling from?

Always give your area code and wireless phone number.

What exactly has happened?

Clearly describe what has taken place:
  • What is on fire?
  • Is the person conscious and breathing? Is the person visibly injured?
  • Type and number of vehicles involved?
  • If reporting a crime, vehicle and suspect descriptions are important.

Call 9-1-1 only if an immediate response by Police/Fire/Rescue/EMS is required.

Refrain from programming your phone to automatically dial 9-1-1 when one button is pressed.

If your wireless phone came with a preprogrammed, auto dial 9-1-1, disable it.

Lock your keypad when your phone is not in use, to avoid accidental 9-1-1 calls.

VoIP Service

Voice over Internet Protocol telephone service, or VoIP, may look and appear to work like a phone, but it connects to the Internet, not a telephone line.

Here are several critical factors to consider regarding the impact of this technology on your emergency call to 9-1-1:

  • Does your VoIP phone service provide 9-1-1 access?
  • Check your service provider's website for emergency calling features. Find out if it automatically displays your address at the 9-1-1 center if you should need to call. If they are silent on the issue, then it is likely that 9-1-1 is NOT provided.
  • When calling for emergency help, give your location and call back phone number. Many VoIP services do not provide this information.
  • Call back if you get disconnected.
  • If the power is out, your VoIP service may also be out.
  • If you travel with your VoIP adapter, your phone may not work for making 9-1-1 calls. Call from another phone.