Last week we heard a story of a woman who was on the phone with her aunt when she overheard shattering glass and a man’s voice shouting in the background before the call went silent. Her aunt was unresponsive, and this woman realized she needed to dial 9-1-1. The problem was, she was located in Dallas and her aunt was living in Washington state, and she was unsure of how to reach the local authorities.
If you have family living out of state, this scenario may have crossed your mind, and the helplessness of the situation may seem a little overwhelming. But there is something you can do.
The majority of police departments or sheriff’s offices have 10-digit numbers that still go into the 9-1-1 emergency communications center (ECC). You can find a list of the 10-digit numbers within the NCT9-1-1 region here. These lines are answered by the telecommunicators who also answer 9-1-1 calls and not by administrators, which is a common misconception. We advise all of our citizens to look up their local 10-digit number and save it into their phone and to write it down in a place where everyone in the household has access, like on the refrigerator. This is only a precaution, as dialing 9-1-1 during an emergency is always the best way to get help quickly.
However, if you have family members living out of state, like your grandmother in Florida, you can also write down the local 10-digit number for their police department or sheriff’s office. Save this number in your phone in case you need to contact local authorities for an emergency or welfare check. You can also dial 9-1-1 and explain the situation to the call taker, who can then look up the 10-digit number of your family member’s location.
Whether you’re contacting emergency services through 9-1-1 or the 10-digit number, remember to always give the location of the emergency first, and then to follow all instructions, answer all questions, and stay on the line.
You can learn more about 10-digit numbers here.