What Is a 911 Emergency?

sos2The 911 emergency system is intended for true emergencies—an emergency that threatens life, limbs, or sense organs. However, when in doubt, call 911 and let the 911 operator determine whether or not you need emergency help.

A general rule of thumb is to call 911 if you are involved in, or are witness to:

  • a fire
  • a car accident
  • a situation in which a person is exhibiting the following injuries or symptoms:

¤   unconsciousness
¤   heart attack or stroke
¤   trouble breathing
¤   a severe allergic reaction (“anaphylactic shock”)
¤   a serious burn
¤   severe bleeding
¤   broken bone(s)
¤   an injury to head, neck, or eyes

  • a crime in progress
  • if you are not physically capable of driving yourself or the injured person to the hospital in the event of a physical injury or emergency situation

If you do decide to call 911, follow the guidelines on reporting an emergency to 911 described on the TIPS for 911 Reporting page on this website.

IMPORTANT! If you or a child in your home dial 911 by mistake when no emergency exists, DO NOT JUST HANG UP. Hanging up could result in the 911 operator thinking that an emergency exists, and sending responders out. Instead, explain to the operator what happened.