911 Tips

Important information you need to provide when you dial 911.

911 emergency response begins as soon as a 911 Calltaker picks up the phone. Here are tips to help you become the most effective 911 Caller:

Be Prepared

Always be aware of your location. If you don't know the address, try to find a mile marker, a landmark or a nearby business to describe your location.

Be Observant

What you see, hear and feel are important pieces of information that can help save lives.

Learn to be an MVC!

Check out this informative 911 video.

911 video intro image showing a police man exting his vehicle.


Critical Questions Your Calltaker Will Ask:

1) What is the location of the emergency?

This is the first question you will be asked. It is critical that you provide the calltaker an address for your emergency. If you do not know the address, you will need to provide a mile marker number, an exit number or describe your surroundings to help a Calltaker be able to locate the emergency.

2) What exactly happened?

Be prepared to describe the emergency accurately and in as much detail as possible. This will help the Calltaker understand the nature of the emergency and be able to dispatch the proper agencies to the location.

3) What is the phone number you are calling from?

The Calltaker will ask for your phone number in case they need to call you back if your call is dropped. 

4) What is your name?

The Calltaker will ask your name for two reasons: if they need to call you back and if the first responders need an eyewitness to the emergency whenever they arrive on the scene.

5) Are you at the location now?

Often people call from a different location other than the emergency scene.

6) Were any weapons involved or mentioned in the emergency?

It is important for the Calltaker to know if weapons are involved to ensure the correct agencies are dispatched to the emergency.

7) Will you describe the people/weapons/vehicles at the scene?

The Calltaker will need to know the following types of details about the emergency:
  • Gender of people involved
  • Race/ethnicity of people involved
  • Clothing descriptions can help identify victims and perpetrators
  • Age
  • Type of vehicle and number of vehicles involved
  • Type of weapons at the scene. For example; handguns, rifles or shotguns

Gender, Age, Race and Ethnicity are important details that help us identify victims and people in need of help.

8) Do you see smoke or fire?

The Calltaker needs to know if there is any smoke or fire so they can dispatch the correct response unit. Whether you are reporting a car accident or a burglary in progress, smoke and fire are things you should look for and report.

When in doubt about calling 911, you should always dial 911.


It is never too late to begin building good habits of observation for yourself and your children. Learn more about what kids should know in emergency situations here.