COVID-19: Be a Responsible 9-1-1 Caller and Citizen

It's important to know when NOT to call 9-1-1 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most of us have never experienced anything quite like COVID-19 or the precautions that must be taken to prevent the spread of a pandemic that is impacting our city, state, nation and world. At Huntsville-Madison County 9-1-1, our core goal is to serve the people of our community by answering your emergency calls and connecting you with life-saving resources you need, when you need it most. 

In the midst of what seems like worldwide chaos, first and foremost, we want to let the citizens of Huntsville and Madison County know that we are here ready to serve you. While we’ve taken necessary measures to decrease foot traffic at our call center, we do have a full shift of call takers on site, 24-hours a day, ready to answer your calls and respond to your emergencies.

During times of uncertainty, such as this one, we expect the number of 9-1-1 calls to increase. As always, but especially now, it is extremely important for citizens to use but not abuse its 9-1-1 call center by only dialing 9-1-1 in the case of an emergency. Below, we’ve outlined a few reminders about when to and when not to call 9-1-1. 

Call 9-1-1 if:

You or a loved one are physically hurt in a way that could be life-threatening;

You or someone else is in danger of being harmed; or,

You are in immediate need of police, fire or emergency assistance.

If you are unsure whether or not your situation is an emergency, call 9-1-1. 

When Not to Call 9-1-1

Don’t call 9-1-1 if you are bored and want to talk to someone. We understand that in this time of social distancing, many may feel lonely. It is important that you use this time to catch up with friends and family members over the phone, rather than 9-1-1. Our call takers are required to answer your phone calls and stay with you until you feel safe to hang up the phone. We ask you to practice compassion by leaving the 9-1-1 call lines open for those in an emergency.

Don’t call 9-1-1 as a prank. Again, while it may seem like a silly reminder, unfortunately, our call center does receive prank calls from time to time. For the safety of the community, remember that 9-1-1 calls are serious and there is no time for humor when a life is on the line. 

Don’t call 9-1-1 because you think you might be sick, but it is not an emergency. If you think you may be coming down with an illness, particularly COVID-19, we encourage you to talk to your doctor about being tested, rather than calling 9-1-1. That being said, if you or a loved one is experiencing shortness of breath, sudden cardiac arrest, or is unable to provide care for themselves, call 9-1-1 immediately so help can be dispatched to your location. 

Don’t call 9-1-1 for information, directory assistance or specific phone numbers. We understand that at this time, you have many questions about COVID-19 and steps you should take to protect yourself and the people around you from this disease. Our call takers are trained to respond to emergency situations, but they should not be seen as your source to answer general questions about COVID-19. Below are a few helpful links that we hope will answer your questions, as well as a link to our page of non-emergency phone numbers of organizations able to provide assistance in a variety of situations. 


Alabama Emergency Management Agency

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Non-Emergency Numbers for Huntsville-Madison County


Don’t call 9-1-1 because of a lack of food or supplies. Our 9-1-1 Call Center is extremely empathetic towards those who may be short on food, toilet paper and other supplies during this pandemic. While we understand that being out of essential items can feel scary and very much like an emergency, our 9-1-1 Call Center is not prepared to help you in this way. We do however, encourage citizens of this county to have compassion towards those in need and to be considerate when shopping for supplies. Only take what you need and leave some for others.

Thank you reading and for educating yourself on when to call 9-1-1. We believe informed citizens have the ability to make a huge impact in our community. 

If you have an emergency, please call 9-1-1. Our call takers are prepared to answer your calls and get you the help you need. If your emergency is related to COVID-19, alert your call taker so they can equip emergency responders with the information they need to protect you and themselves.