Here are some tips that callers to 9-1-1 should keep in mind when requesting emergency police, fire or medical services:

  • When placing a call to 9-1-1, if you encounter an extended ring cycle, do not hang up and redial unless the ring lasts more than a few minutes. You will only delay your access to the Emergency Communications Center.
  • In most instances, calls will be answered before the caller even hears a ring. However, under some circumstances, heavy call volumes will occur and extensive rings can happen. If all call takers are busy, calls are held in the order in which they are received and are distributed to call takers in that order as soon as they become available.
  • When providing information about an incident, be as descriptive as possible. You will be asked to give identifying information about any persons or automobiles involved in the situation. The more information you can provide, the more information dispatchers will be able to relay to responding police units.
  • If you do not want your name given to responding police units, be sure to inform the call taker. There is a box that the call taker will activate so that you will remain anonymous. The only way for this to be deactivated is with your approval upon contact by a supervisor.
  • Calls for police service are dispatched on a priority basis. Any situation that represents an immediate threat to life, bodily injury or major property damage or loss is a high-priority dispatch. These calls are to be dispatched within 10 minutes.
  • Incidents where there is no immediate threat to life; no one was injured in the incident; the incident is not in progress; the offender is not in the immediate area, and the incident does not involve a major loss or damage of property are of a lower priority. These calls are to be dispatched within one hour. If your call is not a high priority, as defined above, you will be informed that a unit will be sent when available.
  • Use the police non-emergency number 3-1-1 , when a personal police response will not affect the outcome of an incident. By using the non-emergency number, you will help ensure the availability of adequate resources for emergency situations.
  • When calling for emergency medical services and the nearest ambulance is more than 18 blocks away, a fire engine or truck will be sent prior to the arrival of the ambulance. Members of the fire suppression company are all trained in basic life support techniques and can administer emergency care until the arrival of paramedics.
  • Ambulance service is provided only in real emergencies — situations that cannot wait. Minor illnesses and routine transfers to medical facilities are referred to private ambulance services. The City does charge a fee for ambulance service; however, no one will be denied service because of inability to pay.