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April is National 9-1-1 Education Month

Author: Ryan Dedmon, Anaheim PD Communications

Copyright: 9-1-1 Magazine, Feature Content

Date: 2013-04-15
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April is “National 9-1-1 Education Month”.  Public Safety communication centers across the country are working to educate the public about the 9-1-1 Emergency System to help residents and businesses in their jurisdiction with emergency preparedness.  Santa Ana (CA)-based Operation 10-8, an organization honoring the work of heroes behind the badge through public recognition and education, encourages all public safety personel to support dispatchers everywhere.  Operation 10-8 has launched its own 9-1-1 Educational Campaign to assist with emergency preparedness and eliminating false calls; we're sharing these guidelines with all 9-1-1 Centers in hopes that other emergency communications agencies can use them as a springboard to develop their own 9-1-1 public education campaigns this month:

9-1-1 Basics:

9-1-1 is the universal number in North America for emergency assistance.  It can be dialed from a landline, cell phone, payphone, or voice-over-internet-protocol (computer connected to the Internet).  When you call, a dispatcher will answer the phone and ask questions to determine the nature of the emergency (police/fire/medical).

9-1-1 from Landlines:

When you call 9-1-1 from a landline, the address and telephone number you are calling from will show up on computer systems for the dispatcher to see.  However, the dispatcher will ALWAYS ask you to verify this information to ensure it is correct.

9-1-1 from Cell Phones:

If you call 9-1-1 from a cell phone, it is your responsibility as the caller to know the address/location of the emergency.  Although technology has drastically improved for emergency communications over the last two decades, computer systems do NOT show the specific address on wireless calls from cell phones.  Dispatchers will know the general area from which the call is originating, but this can vary anywhere from 10 yards to 1/4 mile in a radial search in every direction.

9-1-1 from VOIP:

If you use a voice-over-internet-protocol for your home telephone service, make sure the service provider has your emergency calls forwarded to the correct local agency and your correct address/phone number are displayed.

It is important you are familiar with the settings and features of the phone from which you are calling; this especially applies to cell phone.  When your phone is not in use, lock the keys on it so calls cannot be made from it while you carry it in your pocket or purse.  This is a popular cause for accidental calls to 9-1-1, sometimes referred to as “butt dials” because that is what pushes the buttons on the phone when you keep it in your back pocket and sit on it.

If you have children who live in your home, teach them your home address and telephone number as soon as they are able to learn it.  Teach them about 9-1-1, but make sure they understand it is for EMERGENCIES ONLY so they do not call as a joke or prank.  It is highly recommended that families and businesses develop a plan so that everyone knows what to do in the event of an emergency at the location.

Additional Do’s and Don’ts for 9-1-1:


  • Try to remain calm.
  • Speak up loud and clear so the dispatch can hear you.
  • Wait for the dispatcher to ask questions and answer to the best of your ability.
  • Stay on the line until the dispatcher says it is OK to hang up.


  • Call 9-1-1 for non-emergencies or general information.
  • Call as a joke or prank.
  • Knowingly and intentionally provide the dispatcher with false information.
  • Become argumentative or uncooperative with the dispatcher.

Join the 9-1-1 Education Campaign by sharing this information with your family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers.  Want more information?  Contact your local police or fire department to help your family or business develop a strategic plan for emergency preparedness.


Banner image via - see their web site for more 9-1-1 public education ideas.



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