The dos and don'ts of calling 911
In recognition of National Public Safety Telecommunications Week and National 911 Education Month, the City of Minneapolis and Minneapolis 911 is reminding folks about the importance of 911 and raising awareness of what to do and what not to do when calling to report an emergency.
Tips for calling 911
When calling 911 folks should follow these guidelines:
- Do not hang up. If the call isn’t answered immediately or if you encounter silence on the line, do not hang up and redial unless the silence lasts more than 8 seconds.
- Do not hang up if you call 911 by accident. Hang ups require 911 operators to call back the number the incoming 911 call came from. This happens up to 200 times a day and uses valuable 911 resources including phone lines that should be used for answering emergency calls.
- Give your location when calling 911. This includes, address, intersection, and landmarks. Be prepared to give a short description of a suspect.
- Help can be sent while you talk. A caller should state the problem briefly, answer the operator's questions and stay on the line until the operator terminates the call.
- You can ask 911 operators to stay on the line until help arrives.
- The situation does not have to be an emergency to call 911. Folks can call 911 to report suspicious, criminal activity in progress (e.g. alarms, shots fired, shouts for help, sounds of glass breaking, unfamiliar person carrying items from a house).
- If you need a translator, let the operator know or simply say, “Language line.”
When to call 911
There are many reasons to call 911 including:
- If the situation requires an ambulance or the fire department to respond immediately
- To report a situation that requires a police officer at the scene (for example: assaults, burglaries, kidnapping, domestic disputes, auto theft, accidents in which there are injures / or it is unknown whether injuries have occurred, etc.).
- To report a crime that is in progress
- To report suspicious criminal activity that you witness (for example: sounds of shots fired, cries for help, sounds of glass breaking or if you see an unfamiliar person carrying items from a house).
When not to call 911
There are also many reasons not to call 911. Folks should avoid calling 911 to get directions, legal advice, or to find out if someone is in jail. The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Jail Roster is online or folks can call 612-348-5112. People should also not call 911 to report city issues that do not need police, fire, or an ambulance to respond. They should use the City of Minneapolis website or call 311.
Published Apr. 9, 2012