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Dial 911 in an Emergency

Call 9-1-1 in an emergency for Police, Fire, or Medical help!

The 9-1-1 Emergency System makes an important difference in our community everyday.  It is your first source of help in times of crisis and it can mean the difference between life and death.  When used properly, 9-1-1 saves seconds and those seconds can save lives.

Dialing 9-1-1 is the fastest, easiest way to communicate with local police, fire, and medical services during an emergency.  You do this by simply waiting for the dial tone on your telephone, cellular phone or public telephone, then dialing 9-1-1.

When to Dial 9-1-1

An emergency is when immediate police, fire department or medical assistance is necessary to protect life or property.

If an emergency situation arises – a crime, a fire, a serious injury or illness – ask yourself whether police, fire department or medical assistance is needed right now to protect life or property.  If YES, then immediately dial 9-1-1 and advise the 9-1-1 operator of what has happened or is happening.*

Call 9-1-1 whenever you believe there is an emergency.  If you are not sure it’s a real emergency, dial 9-1-1 and the 9-1-1 operator will make the final determination.  If the 9-1-1 system receives several calls at the same time, emergency services handle these multiple calls on a priority basis.  The most serious emergency will be handled first.

No money is needed for calling 9-1-1 from a pay phone.  If there is an emergency, you can just pick up a pay phone, wait for a dial tone, and dial 9-1-1 without depositing a coin. 

When Calling 9-1-1

  • Stay calm.  Give your name, location, and nature of the emergency.
  • Listen carefully to the 9-1-1 operator.
  • Answer the 9-1-1 operator’s questions as accurately as possible.  Speak clearly and slowly.
  • Do exactly as the 9-1-1 operator tells you during the course of the call.
  • Never hang up on the 9-1-1 operator until you are told to do so.  If you hang up and redial, your call will go to the end of the line of people waiting for service.

Non-Emergency Situations

Do not dial 9-1-1 for non-emergency situations.  For non-emergency situations such as noisy neighbors or stolen hub caps, use your police department’s regular phone number, never 9-1-1.

Never tell a 9-1-1 operator that a situation is more serious than it really is.  It is against the law to intentionally and knowingly give false information to the police or emergency services.  Abuse of 9-1-1 may delay someone else’s access to emergency assistance.

Special 9-1-1 Tips for Seniors

  • Invest in a touch-tone phone with large easy-to-read numbers.  Put a 9-1-1 reminder near the phone.
  • Dialing “O” will not always connect you with an operator nearby.  It may connect you with an operator many hundreds of miles away.  Always dial 9-1-1 for local police, fire, or medical emergency assistance.
  • The 9-1-1 system allows the dispatcher to “know” where you are calling from even if you cannot speak – for instance, if you are experiencing a stroke or if there is an intruder in your home,  Just dial 9-1-1 and leave the phone off the hook.  Do not hang up.
  • Keep your medical history taped to the refrigerator in an envelope clearly marked with your doctor’s phone number(s).

Fill out this list of important phone numbers and post it close to your pone for quick reference.


EMERGENCY                        9-1-1



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Crime Prevention Tips from

National Crime Prevention Council

1000 Connecticut Avenue, NW, 13th Floor

Washington, DC 20036-5325


Eastern PA Crime Prevention Resource Center

Penn State Abington

1600 Woodland Road

Abington, PA 19001

(215) 881-7429

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©2002 NCPC Specialty Products Office – NCPB-061

* Not every city, county or locality has 9-1-1 emergency service.  If yours does not, then you should dial your local seven-digit emergency telephone number or dial “O” for the operator in an emergency.