What to Expect When Calling 911

911 Frequently Asked Questions

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When Calling 911 Calling From a Mobile Device Accidental Calls and Non-emergencies Persons with Special Needs When Calling What is VOIP? Tips for Calling 911

The following information is asked on each and every 911 call:

  • Address/location
  • Telephone number
  • Name
  • Nature of the emergency

It is the goal of the 911 Center to ensure an accurate and quick response to the emergency you are reporting and answering all asked questions will assist in the proper and timely response of responders.

When Calling 911

Why does 911 ask so many questions?

The call taker may only have one opportunity to gather information about the emergency. It is important to get as much information as possible. Based on your answers, a more appropriate dispatch of emergency personnel may be required.

It is important that the call taker verifies all addresses and telephone numbers to make sure help is sent to the correct location, as well as having a valid contact number to call back if necessary. 

Is help being sent while I am answering questions?

Yes, the 911 Center uses a computer-aided dispatch (CAD) program, which allows the call taker to enter information and send the call in a timely manner while asking further questions. There is absolutely no delay in sending help while you continue to answer questions.

While you are on the line answering questions about the emergency, a telecommunicator is dispatching and sending the appropriate help. 

Calling From a Mobile Device

If I call 911 from my cell phone, why does my call get transferred to another agency?

Several factors play a part in whether your call will be transferred to another agency:

  • The location of the emergency
  • The cell tower your call is being transmitted from
  • The correct agency that would handle the reported emergency

It is the job of the 911 Center to make sure you are speaking with the correct agency that would best handle your emergency. 

How does the 911 Center know my location and telephone number when I call from a cell phone?

The Raleigh-Wake 911 Center uses Phase 2 Wireless 911 services. When you dial 911 from a cell phone, the call taker can see your approximate location by receiving the location of the cell tower your call is coming from. The call taker attempts to get your exact location, using coordinates through GPS. This allows the call taker to place your location exactly; within the size of a football stadium. GPS coordinates do not provide elevation. 

What are some tips to consider when calling from a mobile? 

  • Pull over - Do not put yourself or others at risk to make a call.
  • Know your location - Give the address, or use landmarks, crossroads or mile markers to tell where you are.
  • Know your telephone number - Memorize your cell phone number. Write it down in an easy to find location before you need to call 911.
  • Briefly state your emergency - Seconds count! You may need to be transferred to the appropriate responding agency. 
  • Don’t Hang Up - Be ready to give details, confirm information and follow instructions that could save a life. The most important thing you can do when you call 911 is stay on the line; the phone system will not disconnect you and the Center will answer your call in the order in which it was received.  If you are in a situation where you can't talk, you can text. Simply enter 911 into a new text message session and tell 911 where you are and what the situation is.
  • Stop accidental calls - More than half of wireless 911 calls are accidental. Always keep your keypad locked. However, if you misdial 911, stay on the line to talk to a telecommunicator.
  • Texting - Call 911 if you can, but if you cannot, you can text.
  • iPhone 14 users can connect with emergency services when cellular and Wi-Fi coverage are not available through a service called Emergency SOS, which uses satellite.

Accidental Calls and Non-emergencies

What should I do if I accidently call 911?

If you accidentally dial 911, do not hang up. The best thing your can do is stay on the line until a call taker answers so you can tell them that you dialed by mistake. If you hang up before speaking with a call taker, an attempt will be made to call your telephone number back to make sure everything is ok and that there is no emergency. If no contact is made, and you have called from a land line phone (i.e. home telephone), an officer will be dispatched to the location of the 911 call. 

Who do I call for non-emergencies?

If you have a non-emergency complaint, call 919-829-1911. Examples of non-emergency calls are noise complaints, animal complaints, or incidents where a crime is not currently in progress. For general police-related questions call 919-996-3335. Examples of police-related questions are legal questions.

Persons with Special Needs When Calling

What should I teach my child about calling 911?

Teaching children the proper use of 911 is very important.

Some basic pointers are:

  • Teach your child their full name, their parents’ names, their home address, and their telephone number with the area code.
  • Teach your child what an emergency is and when to call 911.
  • Teach your children that it is against the law to call 911 as a joke or a prank.
  • Teach your children to remain calm and answer all the questions they are asked. 

Does the 911 Center have the ability to assist callers with hearing and speech impairments?

Yes, hearing and speech impaired callers are able to call 911 just like any other citizen. As required by the Americans with Disabilities Act, the 911 Center is equipped with TTY/ TTD (Telephone Device for the Deaf) equipment. All call takers are thoroughly trained in the use of TTY/TTD, as well as continuously trained throughout the year to maintain proficiency in the use of the equipment. 

Also, if you are not able to talk, you can text. Simply enter 911 into a new text message session and tell 911 where you are and what the situation is.

Is the 911 Center able to assist callers who do not speak English?

Yes, if someone calls 911 and does not speak English, they will be transferred to a language line service where an interpreter will be able to translate all questions and answers. Using this service ensures the most accurate information is obtained from the caller. 

What is VOIP?

VOIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is the use of a land line telephone that is accessed through the internet.

Because it is the responsibility of the internet provider to properly establish and route 911 services. VOIP users are also responsible for filling out the appropriate forms supplied by their service provider to register their correct calling location.

Because telephone service is being delivered through the internet, if power was to go out in your home, you may lose telephone service if the modem to your internet is not on a battery backup system. 

Tips for Calling 911

  • Stay calm and speak clearly.
  • State the type of help needed.
  • Know your street address.
  • Give all the information the dispatcher asks.
  • Stay on the line until help arrives, when necessary.





Administrative Offices


Lead Department:
Emergency Communications