Everything You Need to Know About 911 Services The Basics of 911 What is 911? The phone number 911 is what most people in the U.S. call to get help during a police, fire, or medical emergency. A 911 call goes over dedicated phone lines to a PSAP, and trained personnel then send the emergency help needed. The service is available in all counties and cities in Alabama. What is Enhanced 911? Enhanced 911, or E911, is a system that routes an emergency call to the 911 center closest to the caller and automatically displays the caller's phone number and address. The Public Safety Telecommunicator will typically ask the caller to verify the information, which appears on his or her computer screen. What is Phase II 911 service? Phase II is a requirement of the FCC for wireless phone companies to provide an approximation of the 911 caller's location in the form of latitude and longitude. Can I dial 911 from a cellular phone? Yes! Even if the phone does not have a service plan from a provider, you can still call 911. What are the state laws involving 911? This link will take you to a copy of the new 911 law that took effect October 1, 2013: http://www.alabamacounties.org/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2012/05/Act-2012-293.pdf What about 911 prank calls? A prank call is when someone calls 911 for a joke, or calls 911 and hangs up. This not only wastes time and money but can also be dangerous. If 911 lines or Telecommunicators are busy with prank calls, someone with a real emergency may not be able to get through. In most places, it's against the law to make prank 911 calls. What should I teach my child about calling 911? Teaching children the proper use of 911 is very important. Some of the things you can do as a parent is to teach your children: their full names, their parents' full names, their home address, and phone number with area code. what an emergency is and when to call 911. that it is against the law to call 911 as a joke or prank. if they call 911 by mistake, do not hang up, they will not be in trouble for making a mistake. to remain calm and answer all the questions they're asked. not to be afraid to call 911 if they need to. Why do Public Safety Telecommunicators ask so many questions? The Telecommunicators answer a 911 call with the question, "911, where is your emergency?" The address or specific location is the most critical piece of information we can gather. If we do not have a location of the problem, how can we send help? How can I help the Public Safety Telecommunicator? Answer all questions asked by the Telecommunicator and listen to all the instructions they provide. You must also speak clearly, so we can understand what you are telling us. While we understand that being calm may be difficult to do at times, doing so will help the Telecommunicator gather valuable information needed by first responders. What should I do if I call 911 by mistake? Do not hang up! Remain on the line, even if you are unsure at first if the call went through, and tell the Telecommunicator that the call was a mistake. If you hang up before your misdialed 911 call is answered, the call taker must then send law enforcement and attempt to call you back. This takes up precious time that the call taker could have used to answer another call that may be an actual emergency. A common misconception is that you will get "in trouble" for accidentally dialing 911. This is simply not true! Accidents happen. We understand! I was trying to make a long distance call from my office and got 911 by mistake. Why does that happen? In some offices or businesses, the telephone equipment may require you to dial "9" to get an outside line to dial out. This system is called a Private Branch Exchange (PBX). A PBX is a private telephone system that is connected to the public telephone system. If you happen to dial "9" to get an outside line and "1" for a long distance number, the "1" could accidentally get pressed twice or be held down too long. This is when you accidentally dial 911. When I call 911 from my cell phone, will the Telecommunicator know where I am? Cell phones cannot give your exact location as a traditional phone does. Try to have your address ready, or use landmarks, mile markers, and road signs to describe where you are. Cell Phones provide a latitude and longitude location on most calls, but it is not always available or close enough to find the emergency. What if I don’t know where I am when I call 911? Look for landmarks, large buildings, street signs, or paperwork nearby that may contain address information. Think back to the main street or highway you were near when your emergency occurred. If others are around, ask them where you are. Do not solely rely on your cell phone location to tell 911 where you are! Can I keep driving when I call 911 on a cellular phone? We recommend that you pull over when calling 911, as there is less chance of the cell phone signal being dropped in the middle of the call. Also, any emergency instructions that need to be carried out can best be done while you're stopped. Remember, it is best to be in one place, so help can get to you, instead of trying to meet them somewhere. If you cannot safely pull over to speak to a 911 operator, then stay calm, pay attention to the roadway with surrounding vehicles, and follow the call taker's instructions. Should I program 911 or turn on my auto 911 feature on my cellular phone? We do not recommend that you program 911 or use the auto 911 feature on your cell phone. There are numerous accidental calls to 911 from cell phones that have this feature, especially when the cell phone inadvertently presses against another object and activates the programmed call. In most cases, cell phone owners have no idea their phone has called 911. Help reduce accidental calls to 911 by only calling when you have a life-threatening emergency. Is it possible to send a text message to 911? No. At this time, you are not able to send a text message to 911 in Russell County. Can I dial 911 from a payphone? Yes. Calls to 911 from payphones are provided at no charge. Can the 911 Center communicate with the speech and/or hearing-impaired? What if the 911 caller doesn’t speak English? All workstations in the Communications Center are equipped with Telecommunication Device for the Deaf (TDD). This allows for typed communication with people who are hearing and/or speech impaired. If a caller does not speak English, our center has access to Language Line Services that provide 24-hour over-the-phone interpretation of over 175 different languages. The process of getting an interpreter on the phone with the caller generally takes less than one minute. What about Internet or Digital Phones and 911? Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is called Internet, digital, broadband, or cable phone service. It is a rapidly growing alternative to traditional phone service. VoIP’s popularity is fueled primarily by low prices, new features, and the consumer's ability to choose a phone number from nearly anywhere in the country (and sometimes, other countries). Many industry experts anticipate VoIP's growth will outpace the growth seen by the wireless industry in the last decade. Addressing Basics What is a private drive? A private drive is any road, path, or driveway which serves three or more addressable structures and is not maintained by a governmental entity or agency through the use of public funds. My address may be incorrect or is out of sequence with my neighbors, who I do contact? Contact the Russell County 911 Business Office at (334) 291-5085 with as much information as possible about your address and your neighbors. This includes your address and your neighbors' address on both sides. What about mail that goes to my old address? The Postal Service will continue to deliver to your old address for a period of up to one year after you are issued a 911 address. It is your responsibility to contact everyone you correspond with to update your new address. This includes the tax office, banks, magazine subscriptions, utility companies, and all others that send you any mail. The United States Postal Service (USPS) has address change forms you may use for this purpose. I do not receive mail at my structure, why do I still need a 911 address? The 911 service needs to have a locatable address for every structure that could potentially call 911. Even if you receive mail at a Post Office Box or from another location, you must still have a 911 address so you can be located in an emergency. Your 911 address is also used for package delivery services. Can I get a list of names and addresses? No. We do not give out names and addresses to the general public. This information is shared with public service agencies, but only for their official duties. When do I begin using my 911 address? Please start using your address immediately. The Postal Service will continue to deliver to your old address for a period of up to one year after you are issued a 911 address. To assist emergency personnel, post your 911 numbers at the entrance to your driveway or house or both. Will my new address 911 address and number be the last address I’m assigned? Nothing is forever, but it is intended to establish permanent addresses for all residents. There have been several address discrepancies located in all areas of Russell County, and the addressing staff is continually working to correct issues as they are identified. If you think your address or another address in your area is incorrect, please do not hesitate to contact the Russell County 911 Business Office at (334) 291-5085, so an Addressing Technician can verify the address. A wrong address affects not only that structure but also the surrounding area. Can I pick my 911 address? No. There is a system in place to allow your location to have a specific address. The specific address is unique and provides information on how far from the beginning of the road and on what side of the road your structure is located. How long does it take to receive a 911 address? Russell County 911 staff strives to have an address assigned within 10 business days from receiving the request. However, due to several factors such as address discrepancies, private drive naming, or staffing levels, that goal is not always met. What is the charge for getting a 911 address? There is no charge for obtaining an address. Why do I need an address? Addresses are assigned to provide a uniform numbering system for public safety. An address that can be tied to a specific location will better enable emergency personnel to locate you faster when needed. Faster response time can make a significant difference in survival and degree of recovery. If you are unsure of your correct 911 address, please contact the Russell County 911 Business Office at (334) 291-5085 between 8:30 A.M. and 5:00 P.M., from Monday to Friday.