The Enhanced 9-1-1 System began operating in Washington State in September 1985, when King County first offered this service. By December 31, 1998, all 39 counties in Washington will offer Enhanced 9-1-1 services. All local telephones, even coin operated phones, located in enhanced counties are part of the 9-1-1 system. Every year millions of calls for help are routed through 9-1-1. The system provided benefits to citizens who need assistance of police, fire or medical personnel.
What does Enhanced 9-1-1 do for me?
- You only have to remember one number in an emergency--9-1-1. Before 9-1-1, callers had to know which district they were in and the correct seven-digit number to call.
- Routes calls to the correct party for response. The system determines which police and fire departments respond to the caller's location. It then routes the call to the communications center that dispatches for these departments.
- Automatically identifies the phone number and location you're calling from. When you call 9-1-1, the phone number and location you are calling from automatically display on a screen at the communications center. If you cannot give your location, the call taker will know where you are and can send help.
Note: There are some phones that are unable to pass location information on to the 9-1-1 system. These include cellular phones and phones on some Private Branch Exchange (PBX) systems.
When should I call 9-1-1?
Whenever you need help from police, fire, or emergency medical personnel. If you are unsure you have an emergency, dial 9-1-1 and let the communications center decide what action to take. Do not call 9-1-1 for information. Refer to your telephone book for the business telephone number of your police and fire departments for information. You do not receive all the benefits of 9-1-1 if you don't use it.
How do I call 9-1-1?
- From a home phone or a simple business phone. Pick up the receiver and dial 9-1-1 (nine-one-one). If you are calling from an apartment complex served by a private telephone system, the location information of your individual unit may not display at the 9-1-1 communications center.
- From a Centrex or PBX business phone extension. Get an outside line (usually by dialing "9"). Then dial 9-1-1. Your location information may not accurately display from these phones.
- From a cellular phone. Dial 9-1-1. Press send. Your location information will not display at the communications center.
- From a TTY (Teletypewriter). Dial 9-1-1. Wait calmly for a response. Please do not hang-up if you do not get an immediate response.
What happens to my call?
The system will route your call to the appropriate department's communications center. The call taker will ask why you're calling. If necessary, your call may be transferred to another communications center. You will be asked for your address, phone number, name and to describe the situation. Stay calm. Answer all the call taker's questions. The call taker will confirm your location and assess the situation. The communications center will then determine an appropriate response. Be sure to stay on the line. Do not hang up until told to do so. Only hang up if your safety is threatened.
What can I do for 9-1-1?
Keep the telephone company informed of any changes in your name and address. Post your house number where it can be easily seen by responding emergency personnel. Do not use any telephone for the first few hours after a disaster situation, unless it's a life-threatening emergency. Do not call 9-1-1 unless you have a life-threatening emergency.