What to Tell 911

What Should I Tell the 911 Call Taker?

The Seattle 911 call center showing call takers and dispatchers accepting calls, entering data into computers and dispatching resources.Let the 911 Call Taker ask the questions 

Call Takers are trained to gather information as quickly as possible to understand the situation and decide how to help:

  • Let them lead the conversation and answer their questions.
  • The questions may seem unrelated or repetitive, but this is to help clarify the information. 
  • Call Takers are trained to remain calm and unemotional; this is just to get your information as quickly as possible.

Stay as calm as you can

  • Remain calm and patient. 
  • Take a deep breath before speaking. Time seems to slow down when you are in an emergency. Your cooperation is essential to quickly getting help started. 
  • Briefly state the nature of the call. 
  • "I need to report a fire...." or "I need to report a break-in at my home..."

Be prepared to answer the following questions

  • WHERE did this occur?  Did it happen on the street, inside the building, outside, in front or in back, on the second floor or in the basement?
  • WHAT happened?
  • WHEN did this occur?  Is the event still in progress?

Try to describe the location of the emergency

  • An exact street address is best. Look at the address numbers posted on buildings around you. View the street signs which will have hundred-block or intersection information.
  • If you are driving, be aware of the road or highway on which you are traveling. Look for landmarks or businesses that are very near to your location.
  • It is a very good idea to post your address and phone number near your telephone. In an emergency situation is it easy to forget the most basic of information.

Stay on the line if you can 

  • Stay on the line until the 911 Call Taker tells you they have all the information they need. In some instances, they will ask if you can stay on the phone with them until officers arrive. This is to gather additional information if the situation changes before officers arrive.
  • If it is not safe for you to stay on the phone, let the Call Taker know this immediately.

If you misdial - don't hang up 

  • If you misdial and accidentally call 911, DO NOT hang up! Wait until your call is answered and explain that you misdialed.

Teach your children about 911 

  • Teach your children about what 911 is and when it is okay to call 911.
  • Let them know that playing with the phone and calling 911 is a bad idea because it may cause the line to be tied up and someone who is really in trouble may not get help as quickly.

911 Center

Reba L. Gonzales, Interim Director
Mailing Address: PO Box 94607, Seattle, WA, 98124-6907
Phone: (206) 625-5011 (For non-emergencies)
Contact CSCC

Learn when to call the non-emergency number instead of 911. Create a Smart 911 safety profile.