Lake Stevens Journal - Your hometown newspaper since 1960


CITY CORNER | When you should call 9-1-1


April 16, 2013

In 2012 your police department responded to approximately 30,000 calls for service. While not all of these calls came through the 911 system, one of the most frequent questions we receive is, when do we call 911?

911 is nationally recognized and an easy to remember method of contacting law enforcement, fire and emergency services. 911 can be accessed from both landlines and mobile phones, however using a mobile phone can present challenges if you are in an unfamiliar area because exact location will not always show where the call is coming from.

Since the 911 system is for emergencies, it is common to wonder if making the call is the right thing to do. While emergencies are situations where law enforcement, firefighters or medical help is needed quickly, the 911 system is also used to summon law enforcement and firefighters for routine calls. These situations can vary from needing a vehicle unlocked, to following up on a case that was previously reported.

If you are unsure, call 911 and a call taker will talk you through the situation and gather the appropriate information. Knowing what to expect can make calling 911 go smoothly and get you the assistance needed.

When Calling 9-1-1

Remain calm, speak slowly and clearly,

explain why you are calling.

Let the operator know why you are calling and if the incident is still occurring or not. The 911 call taker will ask questions about the “who, what, where, when, why and how” of the incident.

Give the Address. Let the operator know the exact address/location of the situation. Include the street number or apartment number(s), floor and any information that will help the first responders find the correct location. This is very important, because with mobile phones the exact location will not always show where the call is coming from.

Give your name, phone number and current location. While this is not required, giving this information helps investigators if they need to contact you for follow up if an investigation occurs.

Stay on the line; do not hang up. The 911 operator will need to talk to you and get all the necessary information.

Stay on the line until they release your call. Situations change constantly and updated information may be needed.

So remember when you call 911, just remain calm, and explain your situation. The 911 operators will gather the necessary information and send the appropriate services and agency.


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