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Frequently Asked Questions For ECC
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Director of Emergency Communications
Richard F. Troshak

Phone Numbers
Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-Emergency 804-748-1251 or 804-748-1431
Administration 804-748-1556

Email Us 

Mailing Address
Chesterfield Emergency Communications Center
PO Box 40
Chesterfield, VA 23832-0040

Emergency Communications
Frequently Asked Questions For ECC

Dispatch 3  

What is 9-1-1?

9-1-1 is the number to call to get help in a police, fire, or medical emergency. A 9-1-1 call goes over dedicated phone networks to the appropriate 9-1-1 answering point (PSAP) for the caller's location. A trained Emergency Communications Officer (ECO) then sends the emergency help needed.

When should you call 911?

9-1-1 is only to be used in emergencies, potential emergencies, or when an emergency is imminent. An emergency is any situation that requires immediate assistance from the police, fire, or rescue. Ask yourself:

  • Is there a danger to life or property?
  • Is there a serious medical emergency (chest pains, seizures, bleeding, etc.?)
  • Is there any type of fire (building, vehicle, brush, etc.?)
  • Is there any crime in-progress (robbery, burglary, prowler, fights, etc.?)
  • Are there any other life-threatening situations (traffic accident with injuries, stuck in high water, etc.?)
  • Is the caller or someone else the victim of a crime?

If you are ever in doubt of whether a situation is an emergency, you should call 9-1-1. It is better to be safe.

DO NOT call 9-1-1 to  

  • Report electricity or other utility outages.
  • Notify authorities of traffic jams.
  • Inquire about government services.
  • Learn general information.

How can YOU help us?

When reporting an emergency:

  • Remain calm
  • Speak clearly
  • Listen to instructions
  • Answer all questions

The ECO answering 9-1-1 has been trained as to what questions to ask. Be prepared to follow the line of questioning;

  • WHERE the situation is occurring?
  • WHAT is happening?
  • WHEN did the incident occur?
  • WHO is involved?
  • Is a WEAPON involved?
  • What INJURIES have been sustained?

Why do dispatchers ask so many questions?

ECOs ask for pertinent information first, such as

  • Address,
  • Type of call,
  • Name of caller
  • Individuals involved.

Once the initial information is obtained, additional questions will be asked relevant to the type of incident being reported.

The questions will not slow down the dispatching of the appropriate assistance.  

In emergency cases, information is relayed immediately to the appropriate personnel to begin responding to the incident. The ECO remains on the phone to get additional details that are then relayed to the responding units as it is gathered, in real time.

The ECO will continue to assist callers by

  • Providing instructions on how to administer life saving techniques, such as CPR
  • Promoting the personal safety of the caller, the victim and responding Police, Fire, or EMS personnel
  • Engaging in those actions that preserve evidence to aid in the apprehension of suspects

Where do I call for non-emergency assistance?

For all non-emergency situations, please call

  • (804) 748-1251 (Police)
  • (804) 748-1431 (Fire/EMS)

Non-emergency example calls

  • Incidents where a crime is NOT currently in progress
  • Traffic accidents that do not involve injuries or hazards
  • Noise Complaints
  • Requests for information

What should I do if I call 911 by mistake?

If you call 9-1-1 by mistake, DO NOT HANG UP. Stay on the line and tell the ECO that everything is all right.

If a 911 caller hangs up without stating the problem, the caller must be contacted to ensure that no actual emergency exits.

If the ECO is unable to make contact to verify there is no emergency, a police officer will be dispatched if an address is available.

The Emergency Communication Center (ECC) receives more than 20,000 hang-ups each year and must attempt to call back every one of these hung-up calls.

Note: One common misconception that citizens have about dialing 911 by mistake is they will somehow get into trouble. This is not true!

What about 9-1-1 prank calls?

Prank calls, joke calls or hang-ups not only waste time and money, but can also be dangerous.

If 9-1-1 lines or ECOs are busy with prank calls, someone with a real emergency may not be able to get the help they need.

Note: It is against the law to make prank 9-1-1 calls.

I speak a foreign language. Can the 9-1-1 center communicate with me during an emergency?

Yes. The ECO can add an interpreter from an outside service, Language Line Inc., to the line as necessary. This service provides over-the-phone interpretation of more than 140 languages, 24 hours a day.

Note: A non-English speaking caller may hear a short conversation in English and clicking sounds as the interpreter is added to the line.

Can the 9-1-1 center communicate with the speech/hearing-impaired?

Yes. The ECC is equipped with Telecommunication Device for the Deaf (TDD) for the speech/hearing-impaired callers.

If a caller uses TTY/TDD, the caller should:

  • Stay calm, place the phone receiver in the TTY, dial 9-1-1.
  • After the call is answered, press the TTY keys several times.
    • This may help shorten the time necessary to respond to the call.
  • Give the ECO time to connect their TTY.
    • If necessary, press the TTY keys again.
    • The 9-1-1 call taker should answer and type "GA" for Go Ahead.
  • Tell what is needed - police, fire department, or ambulance.
    • Give your name, phone number and the address where help is needed.
  • Stay on the telephone if it is safe.
    • Answer the call taker's questions.

If a deaf or hearing/speech impaired caller does not have TTY/TDD, the caller should

  • call 9-1-1.
  • stay on the line, do not hang up, this leaves the line open.
    • With most 9-1-1 calls from a wire line (traditional home phone), the caller's address is displayed on the call taker's screen and help will be sent.

What if I am using a wireless phone?

When 9-1-1 is dialed on a wireless phone, a call from within Chesterfield County will be routed to the ECC based on cellular tower site location.

Note: Depending on the type of call, geographical area, and other factors, your call may need to be transferred to another jurisdiction or Virginia State Police.

When using a wireless phone:

  • If driving, pull over or use hands-free feature.
  • Know your locations – address, landmarks, crossroads, or mile markers.
  • State the nature of the emergency.
  • Do Not Hang Up – be prepared to give details, confirm information, and follow instructions that could save a life.

If you decide to use only a wireless phone as your home phone, keep these important tips in mind:

  • A wired line home or work phone gives ECOs an exact location.
    • Wireless phones with location technology only provide an approximate location.
  • Be prepared to answer more questions regarding caller’s information and location.
  • If you have an outdated phone, the ECO may not receive any location information.
  • Choose your phone wisely. Your life could depend on it.
  • Even a cell phone that has no service provider but is charged and functional can dial 911.  

For additional information on cellular phone service,see Wireless E9-1-1 Services.

What if I have an Internet Phones?

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) also called Internet, digital, broadband or cable phone service, is a rapidly growing alternative to traditional phone service.

VoIP may look and appear to work like a traditional phone, but it connects to the internet, not a telephone line.

Critical impacts and limitations to consider when calling 9-1-1 in an emergency  

  • Check your service provider's website for emergency calling features.
  • When calling 9-1-1, give your location, and call back number.
  • Call back if you get disconnected.
  • If the power is out, your VoIP service may not work.
    • Consider purchasing a backup power supply.
  • If you travel with your VoIP adapter, your call may not reach the correct 9-1-1 center.
    • If you need 9-1-1 service, use another phone.
  • Be sure to keep your registered location current with your VoIP provider.
  • Inform children, babysitters, and visitors about your VoIP service.
  • Post your address and call back phone number near your phone.
  • Consider keeping a land line phone for accessing 9-1-1 emergency services.
  • Burglar alarms, fax machines, satellite TV, and DVRs often rely on analog modems.
    • Check with your VoIP provider to determine if their service supports analog modems.

Can I call 9-1-1 from a pay phone?

Yes. Local telephone service providers do not charge for calling 9-1-1 from all coin phones.

How many calls does the center receive?

In FY 2017, the ECC handled approximately 638,419 telephone calls. From these, 175,721 calls were dispatched to Fire, Police, Animal Services, and Rescue personnel.

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