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When to Call 911

Please Remember...

Reserve calling 9-1-1 for emergencies only.

In an Emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately from any phone.
An Emergency is any situation with immediate danger to life, limb, or property, or any situation that requires immediate assistance from the police, fire department or ambulance.

Some examples include:

  • Fire (Ex: House, Wildfire, and Vehicle)
  • A crime, if it is in progress or has just occurred
  • Motor Vehicle Accident, especially if someone is injured, or trapped
  • A Reckless driver
  • A medical emergency, such as: Someone who is unconscious, gasping for air or not breathing, experiencing an allergic reaction, having chest pain, having uncontrollable bleeding, or any other symptoms that require immediate medical attention

Important: If you’re not sure whether the situation is a true emergency, call 911 and let the dispatcher determine the level of emergency response.

When you call 911, be prepared to answer the dispatcher’s questions, which may include:

  • The location of the emergency, including the street address, or landmark
  • 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, vehicle description, 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 dispatcher’s questions are important to get the right kind of help to you quickly. Questioning will not delay help coming to you!
  • Be prepared to follow any instructions the dispatcher gives you. The dispatcher can tell you exactly what to do to help in an emergency until help arrives, such as providing step-by-step instructions to aid someone who is choking or needs first aid or CPR.
  • Finally, do not hang up until the dispatcher instructs you to.
  • If you dial 911 by mistake, or if a child in your home dials 911 when no emergency exists, do not hang up—that could make 911 dispatchers think that an emergency exists and possibly send responders to your location. Instead, simply explain to the call-taker what happened.
  • Remember, your call goes through to 911 as soon as the last number is dialed.

Even if you cannot speak...

  • Stay calm...
  • After dialing, leave the phone hanging or make some sort of noise to let the dispatcher know there is an emergency.
  • Your address will appear on their screen when calling from a 'land line' (a phone line, hard-wired at a business or residence), an open Cell phone can generally be located with GPS. 

When to call the non-emergency number - (503)815-1911

  • A crime that is not occurring now
  • Nuisance burning
  • The neighbors are playing their music too loudly
  • Calls for police or fire information
  • General information requests
  • A dog is running loose or barking (Animal Control)