Telephone - Plan and Prepare
9-1-1 is the universal number that can be called to quickly request police, fire, medical, rescue, and other emergency services.
The call-takers and dispatchers at every 9-1-1 Center are highly trained, dedicated professionals who are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This service is accessed through normal wired phones (land line), cellular phones (wireless) and internet phone service known as VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol).
Remember to utilize 9-1-1 for emergencies only. Non-emergency calls should be directed to the administrative number of your police, fire, or emergency medical services.
Frequently Asked Questions on 9-1-1
- 1. Can I dial 9-1-1 anywhere in Illinois and get help?
- 2. Can I text message 9-1-1 from my cell phone?
- 3. I know I can call 9-1-1 from my wireless and landline phone, but can I call from a voice over the Internet phone?
- 4. When should I call 9-1-1?
- 5. Who answers 9-1-1 calls?
- 6. What information should be provided?
- 7. What if the caller speaks limited English?
1. Can I dial 9-1-1 anywhere in Illinois and get help?
Yes, but there are different levels of 9-1-1 availability throughout the state. Some 9-1-1 systems in Illinois are more sophisticated than others and are able to receive data regarding the caller’s location and call back phone number when a 9-1-1 call is received. In other areas 9-1-1 callers may need to be able to confirm their call back numbers and location in order for 9-1-1 to find them.
2. Can I text message 9-1-1 from my cell phone?
No. Currently 9-1-1 cannot receive text messages through its network. You must CALL 9-1-1 in order to receive help.
3. I know I can call 9-1-1 from my wireless and landline phone, but can I call from a voice over the Internet phone?
Yes, but VoIP is a new technology and some VoIP providers haven’t fully complied with 9-1-1 requirements. If you are using VoIP service, you may want to contact your 9-1-1 Center and ask to make a test call to verify that your service has been provisioned correctly and your 9-1-1 call is being sent to the appropriate 9-1-1 jurisdiction.
Additionally, it is the customer’s responsibility to ensure that when setting up the VoIP service in his/her home or business, the correct address for that phone has been entered into the computer. If a 9-1-1 call is made, the address that has been entered by the customer will be the address that is transmitted to the 9-1-1 Center.
If the customer of a VoIP phone takes his/her phone to another location, the customer must update the new address before using the service. If a 9-1-1 call is made from the new location but the customer failed to update the address, 9-1-1 will receive the old location information, which could result in emergency services responding to the wrong location.
4. When should I call 9-1-1?
Use 9-1-1 in situations that require a police, fire, or emergency medical response, such as:
- any crime in progress (or just occurred), especially if the suspect or offender is still on the scene,
- serious violent crimes such as homicide, robbery, domestic violence, and assault,
- gunshots or a person with a dangerous weapon,
- home or business intruders,
- vehicle crashes with personal injury or major property damage, and traffic tie-ups as a result of a crash,
- a known criminal wanted by the police,
- fire, and/or
- medical emergencies.
5. Who answers 9-1-1 calls?
Trained 9-1-1 dispatchers or call-takers answer 9-1-1 calls for service. They will ask critical questions to determine the nature of the emergency. Additionally, they will gather key details to provide accurate and specific information to the emergency responders.
In some instances, a 9-1-1 caller may be transferred directly to the police, fire, or medical service responders.
6. What information should be provided?
- Be prepared to provide the location of the event you are reporting, as well as a call back phone number. Knowing the cross streets, compass directions, and identifying landmarks may also assist the responding unit in locating the incident.
- If there is a perpetrator, a description of the individual, including height, weight, race, whether he/she is armed with a weapon, and/or the type of clothing he/she is wearing, should be provided.
- When you are reporting a fire, be prepared to provide information concerning the location of the fire (inside or outside of a structure), identifying what is on fire, and any additional information that may assist responders in locating the incident.
7. What if the caller speaks limited English?
In most instances, callers who need foreign language assistance are connected within seconds to a language interpretation service, where translators can handle more than 140 different languages. A three-way conversation is conducted among the caller, the 9-1-1 call-taker, and the translator until all necessary information is collected.
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