Know when to call 911
Dispatchers recommend keeping cellphones in a central location
National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week takes place April 10-16, and the City of Minneapolis is using the opportunity to raise awareness of what to do and what not to do when calling 911 to report an emergency.
Make cellphones easy to find in an emergency by keeping them in a central location
With more Minneapolis residents moving away from landline telephones and relying solely on cellphones, 911 dispatchers urge folks to find a central location at home to keep their cellphones, such as a kitchen counter or a table by the door. This makes the cellphone easier to find in case of an emergency when seconds matter and stress is high. Teach those you live with, especially children, where to find the phone so they can quickly call 911.
When calling 911, people should follow these guidelines:
- Do not hang up. If the call isn’t answered immediately, the system will send your call to the next available operator.
- Do not hang up if you call 911 by accident. Hang-ups require 911 operators to call the number back. This happens up to 200 times a day and monopolizes 911 resources including phone lines that should be used for answering emergency calls.
- Give the location where help is needed when calling 911. This includes address, intersection and landmarks.
- Be prepared to tell the operator:
- The address of the emergency.
- Exactly what happened.
- The operator will ask some important questions that help responders know where to go and what to expect. Stay on the line until the operator terminates the call. The operator is able to send help while the caller answers the operator's questions.
- Call 911 to report suspicious, possibly criminal activity in progress, e.g., alarms, shots fired, shouts for help, sounds of glass breaking or an unfamiliar person carrying items from a house. The situation does not have to be an emergency to call 911.
- Say “language line” or let the operator know if you need a translator.
Examples of when to call 911
- To request an ambulance or the fire department to respond immediately.
- To report a situation that requires a police officer at the scene, e.g., an assault, a burglary, a kidnapping, a domestic dispute, an auto theft or a crash with possible injures.
- To report a crime in progress.
- To report suspicious activity that you witness, e.g., alarms, shots fired, shouts for help, sounds of glass breaking or an unfamiliar person carrying items from a house.
When not to call 911
People should 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. Folks should avoid calling 911 to get directions or legal advice or to find out if someone is in jail. The Hennepin County Sheriff’s jail roster is posted online and at 612-348-5112.
About Minneapolis 911
Minneapolis 911 handles about 700,000 calls a year — approximately 2,000 calls a day in the summer and about 1,500 calls a day in the winter. As calls come in, staff assesses the situation and enters crucial information into computers so that dispatchers can prioritize calls, send help and monitor the progress of emergency response. Each April, National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week provides an opportunity to recognize the importance of Minneapolis 911 and the behind-the-scenes work the City’s 911 employees perform to ensure people who need help get prompt emergency assistance.
National Public Safety Telecommunications Week was enacted by Congress in 1991 to honor the thousands of men and women who answer emergency calls and dispatch emergency professionals and equipment.
Published Apr 7, 2016