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Calling 911: What to Expect

Dial 911 only for an emergency. An emergency is any serious situation where a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical help is needed right away.

Non-emergency number: 843-682-5125

When calling 911 in an emergency:

  • Stay calm. Speak clearly.
    Emergency units rely on the information you give to get to you as soon as possible.
  • Give your complete address, including apartment number/letter, and phone number.
    Your address is vital information and address verification is crucial. We cannot help you if we don't know where you are.
  • Quickly and briefly describe your problem.
    As soon as we know what you need, we will know who (police, ambulance, or fire) to send to help you. Get to the point as soon as possible.
  • Answer the operator's questions.
    Operators must ask you certain questions to help the police, fire or EMS units responding to your emergency.
  • Give the 911 operator your name.
  • Listen to the 911 operator.
    Answer their questions and follow any instructions. Remain on the line until the 911 operator says it is okay for you to hang up.

Warning! Problems with Voice over Internet (VoIP) and Cell Phones

What is VoIP?

VoIP phone service uses your internet connection to make and receive phone calls.

VoIP issues with 911

VoIP subscribers enjoy certain advantages like free long distance, or cheaper options for local and cellular phone services. However, VoIP calls present problems for 911 answering systems and can often be routed to the wrong 911 center or be accidentally dropped.

Precautionary Measures

VoIP subscribers should take precautionary steps to ensure their safety when emergency services are needed.

  • Know the 911 capabilities of your VoIP service provider.
  • Register your physical address from where the phone will be used with your VoIP provider so it can be entered into your local 911 system.
  • Be familiar with your VoIP service provider's procedures for updating your address, and promptly update address information in the event of a change.
  • Inform children, babysitters, and visitors about your VoIP service and its 911 limitations, if any.
  • Consider installing a backup power supply, maintaining a traditional phone line or having a wireless phone as a backup for power outages or if your internet is down.
  • If you have questions about whether the phone service you are receiving is a VoIP service, contact your service provider for further information.

For more information about VoIP and 911, visit the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) VoIP 911 website at www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/voip-and-911-service.

Cell phone issues with 911

While many smart phones are accurate with knowing exact locations for games and apps, 911 technology is not as accurate. The precise location of a caller who dials 911 from any cell phone cannot be determined.

  • It is essential that you stay on the line and clearly give your location to the 911 Operator.
  • Static and interference on the line can make it difficult to clearly understand the caller and can lead to missed information. Be patient if 911 asks you the same question more than once.

Do Not Call 911 and...

  • Hang up. If you dialed 911 in error, do not hang up the telephone.
    Instead, stay on the line and explain to the operator that you dialed by mistake and that you do not have an emergency.
  • Report that that the power is out at your home. Contact your utility provider directly.
  • Ask for a weather report or road status.
  • Ask for the non-emergency number or another agency or department's number.