9-1-1 Frequently Asked Questions

What information do I need when I call 9-1-1?


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When Calling 9-1-1 Calling From a Mobile Device Accidental Calls and Non-emergencies Persons with Special Needs When Calling What is VOIP? Tips for calling 9-1-1

The following information is asked on each and every 9-1-1 call: Address/Location Telephone Number Name Nature of the Emergency It is the goal of the 9-1-1 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 9-1-1

Why does 9-1-1 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 9-1-1 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 9-1-1 from my cell phone, why does my call get transferred to another agency?

Several factors play a part whether you 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 9-1-1 Center to make sure you are speaking with the correct agency that would best handle your emergency. 

How does the 9-1-1 Center know my location and telephone number when I call from a cell phone?

The Raleigh-Wake 9-1-1 Center uses Phase 2 Wireless 9-1-1 services. When you dial 9-1-1 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 9-1-1.
  • 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.
  • Stop Accidental Calls - More than half of wireless 9-1-1 calls are accidental. Always keep your keypad locked.
  • Texting - Do not text to 9-1-1. Always call instead. 

Accidental Calls and Non-emergencies

What should I do if I accidently call 9-1-1?

If you accidentally dial 9-1-1, 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 9-1-1 call. 

Who do I call for non-emergencies?

If you have a non-emergency complaint, call 919-831-6311. Examples of non-emergency calls are Noise Complaints Animal Complaints. 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 9-1-1?

Teaching children the proper use of 9-1-1 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 9-1-1.
  • Teach your children that it is against the law to call 9-1-1 as a joke or a prank.
  • Teach your children to remain calm and answer all the questions they are asked. 

Does the 9-1-1 Center have the ability to assist callers with hearing and speech impairments?

Yes, hearing and speech impaired callers are able to call 9-1-1 just like any other citizen. As required by the Americans with Disabilities Act, the 9-1-1 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. 

Is the 9-1-1 Center able to assist calls who do not speak English?

Yes, if someone calls 9-1-1 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 there is no delay in dispatching emergency personnel to their location and assures 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 9-1-1 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 loose telephone service if the modem to your internet is not on a battery backup system. 

Tips for calling 9-1-1

  • 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.
Lead Department:
Emergency Communications