Author: Kristin McKinney

How To Practice Calling 9-1-1

How To Practice Calling 9-1-1

We at NCT9-1-1 don’t think it’s ever too early to have the “talk” with your kids. We mean having the 911 conversation of course! It’s important to teach your kids how, when, and why to dial 911 sooner rather than later so that they are prepared to handle an emergency when you’re not there to help them.  Don’t forget to practice calling 9-1-1 as well with our Learn 9-1-1 App.

But how do you start the 9-1-1 conversation? By answering these four questions.

What is 911?

You have to start with the basics! To teach 9-1-1, start with why you would need to call. Emphasize that 9-1-1 should be used for emergencies only, which means you should only dial if you need immediate help from a police officer, firefighter, or paramedic. If you need help teaching this lesson, Zoey the Zebra and Thomas the Toucan are happy to take your kiddos on a 9-1-1 Adventure and teach them the basics!

When should you call?

Sometimes it’s hard to decide if you need to call 9-1-1 or not, but if your kids can answer yes to any of these questions, then they’ll know they need help!

  • Are they or someone around them not breathing?
  • Are they or someone around them in danger?
  • Do they see fire or smell smoke?
  • Are they or someone around them physically hurt enough to need an ambulance?
  • Are they lost and not sure where a trusted adult is?

It’s also important to point out when not to dial 911. Make sure your kids know not to dial 9-1-1 if:

  • A pet is injured. Call your veterinarian for that!
  • Because they’ve been grounded. A bigger problem with the teenagers, but make sure they know that 911 is for emergencies only!
  • If the electricity goes out. Some adults need to learn this lesson too! 911 can’t help get your power back, so you’re better off calling your utilities company!

How do you call?

It sounds obvious, but showing your kids how to physically dial 911 is important! Make sure they know how to dial on a cell phone and a landline phone, and show them where the emergency call function is located on both an Android and an Apple phone lock screen.

What do you say?

There are three main pieces of information that the 9-1-1 call taker needs to hear: the location of the emergency, the type of emergency service needed, and the phone number of the caller in case they are disconnected. Teach your kids to memorize their home and school address, and have it written down somewhere in your home like on the refrigerator.

Now that you have the basics, how do you practice calling 9-1-1?

By downloading the Learn 9-1-1 App, you can practice dialing 911 from anywhere at any time as long as you have two cell phones. Visit to find out how!

For more resources on teaching your kids about 9-1-1, visit our resource page with printable handouts and an educational video here:

Understanding the Differences Between 9-8-8 and 9-1-1

Understanding the Differences Between 9-8-8 and 9-1-1

In times of crisis, knowing where to turn for help can make all the difference. While many are familiar with 9-1-1 as the emergency number for immediate assistance, fewer are aware of the new 9-8-8 hotline dedicated to mental health crises. This May, during Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s explore the differences between these two critical services and how they can support those in need.

9-1-1: Emergency Assistance for Immediate Response

9-1-1 is the familiar emergency number that connects callers with Emergency Medical Services (EMS), fire, and law enforcement as needed. It is accessible via call or text (in some areas of the United States, available across the NCT9-1-1 service area), providing a vital lifeline in urgent situations. When you contact 9-1-1, you reach a trained 9-1-1 telecommunicator and public safety dispatch workers, not licensed mental health professionals. These professionals answer the phone, listen to the caller, understand how their problem is affecting them, provide support, and share resources if needed.

In situations involving an individual with a mental health condition or someone experiencing a mental health crisis, a trained officer from a crisis intervention team, who has received basic training in handling mental health crises, may be accessible through the 9-1-1 call center.

9-8-8: Support for Mental Health Crises

9-8-8 is the new 24/7 hotline dedicated to mental health crises. It offers call, text, and chat access to trained crisis counselors who can help people experiencing suicidal, substance use, and/or mental health crises, or any other kind of emotional distress. Unlike 9-1-1, which focuses on immediate emergencies, 9-8-8 provides a compassionate and understanding ear for those facing mental health challenges.

Both 9-1-1 and 9-8-8 are free and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. If you are experiencing an emergency, do not hesitate to reach out for help. By spreading awareness for Mental Health Awareness Month, we can ensure that more people know about these vital resources and can access the support they need in times of crisis.

Press Release: Regional Telecommunicator Academy Graduates Class #016

Press Release: Regional Telecommunicator Academy Graduates Class #016

ARLINGTON, Texas, March 8, 2024 — The North Central Texas Emergency Communications District (NCT9-1-1) graduated 18 9-1-1 telecommunicators from its Regional Telecommunicator Academy (RTA) Class #016 on March 8th in Arlington. This class includes recruits from 14 different agencies, including Seagoville Police Department, Collin County Police Department, Greenville Police Department, Decatur Police Department, and Rockwall County Sheriff’s Office.

The graduating recruits have completed a rigorous four-week program that teaches equipment use, state mandates and regulations, how to handle emergency communications situations such as active shootings, and more. Texas is the only state in the country that requires its 9-1-1 telecommunicators to be licensed alongside peace officers and jailers, and NCT9-1-1 hosts the only 9-1-1 telecommunicator academy in the state. The district welcomes recruits from outside its region to participate and this year includes participants from Hutchins Police Department.


“At the academy, we’re not just training people to fill positions,” said NCT9-1-1 Training Coordinator Bret Batchelor. “We’re building a community of resiliency and comradery with our recruits. I want them to walk away with the skills to not only be successful at their new jobs, but to build a lifelong career as a 9-1-1 telecommunicator and to one day pass on their experiences to the next generation of dispatchers.”


The program has graduated recruits from all over Texas and Arkansas since its inception in February of 2016 and continues to grow with classes held twice a year in the winter and summer.


About the North Central Texas Emergency Communications District

The North Central Texas Emergency Communications District (NCT9-1-1) is responsible for 40 plus Emergency Communication Centers (ECCs) in the 13 counties surrounding the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The district supports these ECCs through maintaining and upgrading 9-1-1 equipment, providing up-to-date mapping information, training 9-1-1 telecommunicators, educating the public on the proper use of 9-1-1, and monitoring ECC functionality and compliances. NCT9-1-1 serves a population of 1.7 million and 10,000+ square miles.

The 2024 Total Solar Eclipse: Tips for Safe Viewing

The 2024 Total Solar Eclipse: Tips for Safe Viewing

On April 8, 2024, a remarkable astronomical event will unfold in the skies above Texas and several other states across North America —a total solar eclipse. This phenomenon occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, casting a shadow that sweeps across the planet. In Texas, cities like Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) will be treated to a rare spectacle, as the Moon completely obscures the Sun for a few precious minutes.

What is a Total Solar Eclipse? A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon moves between the Sun and Earth. The Moon blocks the light from the Sun and casts a shadow onto Earth. For the 2024 total solar eclipse, several major cities in Texas, including the DFW metroplex, will be within the “path of totality.” This means that Texas is one of the lucky states where observers of the solar eclipse will be in the direct line of darkness, when the Moon completely covers the Sun. For most areas of DFW, this will last for approximately two to four minutes. To view the full schedule, visit NASA’s information page here or the National Eclipse informational page here.

Safety First: One of the most crucial aspects of viewing a solar eclipse is protecting your eyes. Looking directly at the Sun, even when it’s partially obscured by the Moon, can cause serious eye damage or even blindness. Therefore, it’s imperative to use specially designed eclipse glasses or viewers that meet the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard. Regular sunglasses are not safe for viewing a solar eclipse.

What to Expect: During the eclipse, you may notice a drop in temperature and an increase in wind speed. Animals and insects might also exhibit unusual behavior. Pets may become anxious, bees might return to their hives, and nocturnal animals might emerge. It’s important to remain calm and observe these changes respectfully.

Impact on Communities: Communities within the path of totality often experience a surge in population due to visitors flocking to witness the eclipse. This influx of people can lead to increased traffic, potential accidents, and an uptick in non-emergency calls to 9-1-1. It’s crucial to reserve 9-1-1 for true emergencies to ensure that those in need receive prompt assistance.

When and Where to Watch: The 2024 total solar eclipse will occur on April 8, between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. CT, with DFW experiencing the eclipse within the path of totality. To find out the exact timing for your location and to view events in the DFW metroplex, consult the Eclipse Events Dashboard or NASA’s information page.

How to Safely View the Eclipse:

  • Use proper eye protection, such as eclipse glasses or handheld viewers.
  • Consider indirect viewing methods, like pinhole projectors, if you don’t have eclipse glasses.
  • If photographing the eclipse, use a solar filter and never look through the viewfinder without protection.
  • Stay aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded or unfamiliar areas.
  • Keep pets indoors to protect their eyes from the Sun’s harmful rays.

The 2024 total solar eclipse offers a rare opportunity to witness one of nature’s most spectacular events. By following safety guidelines and respecting the impact on communities, you can enjoy this celestial show while ensuring a safe and memorable experience for all.

This blog post was created with assistance from ChatGPT, an AI language model developed by OpenAI.