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Mastering 911 Calls - What Critical Information Should You Provide First

Updated: Jun 27

What is the first thing 911 dispatchers need to know when calling 911 from your cell phone?


In the heart-pounding chaos of an emergency, dialing 911 feels like the immediate lifeline. But in that frantic moment, keeping calm and focused isn't easy. Amidst the rush, the critical factor isn't just who you are or the situation you're in—it's about one vital piece of information that can make or break the outcome: it’s all about “your precise location”.


You may think that in our GPS-dominated era, 911 dispatchers could magically trace your whereabouts. Surprisingly, that's not the case. Even with today’s technology at our fingertips, mobile phones throw unique challenges at emergency responders, as revealed by the FCC.


Here’s the scoop: cell phones, being mobile, don't come pre-packaged with a fixed location like landlines do. Sure, the nearest cell tower offers a clue, but it’s a vague lead at best—not enough to rush help your way.


And that's not all. Picture this: dropped calls and service blackouts. It’s happened many times to major providers like AT&T and Verizon, and had their users stranded in 911 limbo.


But fear not. There's a hack in this emergency labyrinth. If you manage to relay your location before the line cuts, dispatchers can still swing help your way, dropped call or not.


So, the game plan? Start strong by providing your exact location, swiftly followed by your phone number. It’s your insurance policy—just in case the call fades or you accidentally disconnect.


Then, once those digits are squared away, introduce yourself and paint the situation with clear strokes. Stay composed; your calm demeanor is the key that unlocks the dispatcher's understanding and speeds up the cavalry's arrival. Remaining calm is important, as it helps the dispatcher understand what is happening, so he or she can send the correct help as quickly as possible.


Providing all of the relevant details in an emergency situation can be quite difficult, but if you can at least remember what to say first, it could literally mean the difference between life and death.



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Incident Number


Alert Type

Preparedness Article

Incident Type

Information Only

Incident Occurred

February 27 2024

Alert Posted

February 27 2024





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