When to Call 9-1-1

911_callA Note From the Chief…

Most people in the United States have become familiar with the 9-1-1 system since it was first implemented in 1968. Today dialing 9-1-1 from any telephone in North America will link the caller to an emergency dispatch center, which can send emergency responders to the caller’s location in the United States and Canada.

When should the 9-1-1 system be used? Our Fire Company recommends that when a fire is discovered, getting out of the building and then calling 9-1-1 early is much better than trying to fight the fire alone.

However… someone called 9-1-1 to check the game schedule for his favorite football team. Another person reported his neighbor’s cat prowling on his front porch. Another called to complain about his utility bill. These inappropriate 9-1-1 calls, which are a misuse of the emergency system, actually happened here in the Lancaster/Harrisburg area.

Prank calls like these tie up the 9-1-1 emergency phone system and can delay response to real 9-1-1 calls. Remember that the 9-1-1 system is intended for use in emergency circumstances only; those types of situations where a quick response from EMS, police, or fire is needed. The 911 reporting system works well – let’s not abuse it.

Written by Chief Lonnie Kauffman