What is 9-1-1?

  • 9-1-1 is an easy to remember three-digit number that can be used to get immediate assistance from fire, police and medical personnel
  • You no longer have to memorize or look up 7-digit numbers in an emergency.
  • You do not need a quarter to dial 9-1-1 from any pay phone with a dial tone.
  • 9-1-1 is never long distance.
  • 9-1-1 is a free call from any wireless phone.

9-1-1 Frequently Asked Questions

What is 9-1-1?

9-1-1 is the number to call to summon law enforcement, firefighters or medical personnel in an emergency. A 9-1-1 call is transmitted over dedicated phone lines to the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) for the area the caller is calling from (Stokes County). Trained emergency communication center dispatchers gather information, send emergency help and, in some cases, give pre-arrival instructions as needed.

What is Enhanced 9-1-1?

Enhanced 9-1-1, or E-9-1-1, is a system mandated by the FCC which routes an emergency call to the nearest 9-1-1 center closest to the caller, and automatically displays the caller’s phone number and address. The 9-1-1 telecommunicator will ask the caller to verify the information, which appears on his or her computer screen.

When should I call 9-1-1?

Do not hesitate to use the 9-1-1 telephone number for any type of medical problem or injury, you see a fire or smell smoke, you see a crime being committed, or for any other type of emergency/safety issue.

If the dispatcher determines that it is appropriate to do so they will then ask you to call them on a non-emergency line and will provide you with that telephone number.

When should I NOT use the 9-1-1 telephone number?

Do not use the 9-1-1 telephone number for any type of routine business such as keys locked in vehicle, animal problems, parking tickets, directory assistance (use 4-1-1), etc.

While it is appropriate to call 9-1-1 for downed or arcing power lines, DO NOT call 9-1-1 for power and water outages, call your utility provider. 9-1-1 personnel cannot provide you with outage information (location and duration) and calling 9-1-1 ties up emergency phone lines. Never call 9-1-1 as a prank or a joke. These calls are illegal and more importantly could cost someone else their life. A police officer/sheriff deputy will be dispatched to the location of these calls.

What if I accidentally call 9-1-1?

We understand that someone can call 9-1-1 by accident. This often occurs when people have 9-1-1 preset on their telephone. It also happens quite often when people sit on their cell phone or bump it while it is in a purse or book bag. If you dial 9-1-1 by accident, please do not just hang up. Stay on the line and simply tell the dispatcher that you called by accident and that everything is okay. If you hang up instead, the dispatcher is required to call you back to determine whether or not you had an emergency. If no one answers when they call you back, law enforcement will automatically be sent to your location to investigate

What should I tell the 9-1-1 call taker?

The first and most important question you will be asked is “Where is your emergency”? This allows us to send some type of help should we lose contact with you. Even though we have “Enhanced 9-1-1”, where you are calling from may not be where the help needs to be sent. Next, you will be asked about the nature of your emergency. This tells the call taker what type of help to send (police/fire/ambulance).

You will be asked your name and phone number. Although you do not have to give this information, it is beneficial should we need to contact you to obtain additional information.

Why shouldn't I call 9-1-1 when my power goes out? I don't like just leaving a message on the power company's answering machine. I want to talk to a real person.

When you call a power company’s outage reporting line and leave a message about your power being off, automated location equipment similar to that used in 9-1-1 records your account information based upon your address and phone number. So even when all you can do is leave a message, you are also leaving valuable location information to help the power company find where the problem is. The power company uses that information, regardless of whether or not you actually spoke to anyone, to plot your location in its power grid. The problem is often somewhere other than your house, and this information helps them go directly to the source of the problem.

What is the Kari’s Law Act of 2017?

This bill amends the Communications Act of 1934 to prohibit businesses from manufacturing or importing for use in the United States, or selling or leasing in the United States, a multiline telephone system unless it is pre-configured to allow users to directly initiate a call to 9-1-1 (without dialing any additional digit, code, prefix, or post-fix, including any trunk-access code such as the digit “9”) from any station equipped with dialing facilities.
Businesses are prohibited from installing, managing, or operating multiline telephone systems without such a direct 9-1-1 call configuration.

Businesses installing, managing, or operating such systems for use in the United States must configure the systems to provide a notification to a central location at the facility where the system is installed, or to another person or organization regardless of location, if the system is able to be so configured without an improvement to the hardware or software.

For information about the NCT9-1-1 program, view NCT9-1-1 FAQ.

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