911 follows protocols that guide callers through a sequence of questions to quickly obtain information necessary for dispatching the right responders to the right location. Call-takers may also provide instructions about what to do until help arrives. Even though protocols are designed to help call-takers reassure callers and take charge of the situation, the experience can be stressful for a 911 caller who is not accustomed to dealing with emergencies. When you call 911, be prepared to answer the call-taker’s questions, which may include:
- The location of the emergency, including the street address, and room/apartment number, if you’re in a large building
- The phone number you are calling from
- The nature of the emergency
- Details about the emergency, such as a physical description of a person who may have committed a crime, a description of any fire that may be burning, or a description of injuries or symptoms being experienced by a person having a medical emergency
Remember, the call-taker’s questions are important to get the right kind of help to you as quickly as possible. Be prepared to follow any instructions the call-taker gives you. Many 911 centers can tell you exactly what to do until help arrives, such as providing step-by-step instructions to aid someone who is choking or needs first aid or CPR. Do not hang up until the call-taker instructs you to do so.