911 is the number to call to get help in a police, fire, or medical emergency. A 911 call goes over dedicated phone networks to the appropriate 911 answering point (PSAP) for the caller's location. A trained Emergency Communications Officer (ECO) then sends the emergency help needed.
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Text to 911 is available, see the Text to 911 information page here.
911 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 the following:
If you are ever in doubt of whether a situation is an emergency, you should call 911. It is better to be safe. Do not call 911 to do the following:
When reporting an emergency please do the following:
The ECO answering 911 has been trained as to what questions to ask. Be prepared to follow the line of questioning:
ECOs ask for pertinent information first, such as address, type of call, name of caller, or 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 doing the following:
For all non-emergency situations, please call the Police Department at 804-748-1251 or the Fire/EMS Department at 804-748-1431. Non-emergency example calls include:
If you call 911 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!
Prank calls, joke calls or hang-ups not only waste time and money, but can also be dangerous. If 911 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 911 calls.
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.
Yes. The ECC is equipped with Telecommunication Device for the Deaf (TTY/TDD) for the speech/hearing-impaired callers. If a caller uses TTY/TDD, the caller should:
If a deaf or hearing/speech impaired caller does not have TTY/TDD, the caller should call 911 and stay on the line, do not hang up, this leaves the line open. With most 911 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.
When 911 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 you decide to use only a wireless phone as your home phone, keep these important tips in mind:
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 E911 Services information (PDF).
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 911 in an emergency include:
Yes. Local telephone service providers do not charge for calling 911 from all coin phones.
In fiscal year 2017, the ECC handled approximately 638,419 telephone calls. From these, 175,721 calls were dispatched to fire, police, animal services, and rescue personnel.