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9-1-1 Frequently Asked Questions | Print |

When should I call 9-1-1?

9-1-1 is for emergencies only. You should only dial 9-1-1 if someone is hurts or in danger, or if you are in need of police, fire or emergency medical assistance. If you aren't sure your situation is an emergency, you should be on the side of safety and call 9-1-1.

Why does the 9-1-1 Call Taker ask so manyquestions?

The 9-1-1 Call Taker is trained to ask a series of questions. Some questions are always the same:

  • "Fulton County 911, What's the address of the emergency?"
  • "What is the telephone number you are calling from?"
  • "Okay, tell me exactly what happened?"

Once the initial information and nature of the emergency is determined, the appropriate public safety responders can be dispatched (Police, Fire and/or Emergency Medical Services). Depending on the type of emergency, the 9-1-1 Call Taker may need to keep you on line to provide further instructions or information until help arrives. For example, if you are reporting a medical emergency, or accident, the 9-1-1 Call Taker will continue with a series of questioning. Be assured that while you are being asked those questions, appropriate help is being dispatched. In many cases, the 9-1-1 Call Taker asks the questions while the 9-1-1 dispatcher is sending help.

How does the 9-1-1 Call Taker know my address?

If you don't know the address you are calling from, many times your address and telephone number will automatically appear on the 9-1-1 Call Taker's computer screen. This is not foolproof, however, and does not work with cell phones. The 9-1-1 Call Taker will always ask you to confirm the address and telephone number.

What if I'm calling from my cell phone?

When you dial 9-1-1 from your cell phone, your call will hit the nearest tower of your cell phone provider. So while you may be in unincorporated South Fulton County using your cell phone, you may actually hit a tower in another county/city and your call will directed to that county/city 9-1-1 center. Just advise the exact location of the emergency and 9-1-1 operator from that county/city will transfer you to the Fulton County Emergency Communications 9-1-1 Center.

Also, keep in mind that cell phone calls are not always very clear. There is a routing process that the call follows and sometimes the beginning of the call is broken up. Please be patient as the 9-1-1 Call Taker is doing everything they can to assist you.

What if I don't know where I am?

At times, during emergency situations such as traffic accidents, you may not know where you are. The 9-1-1 Call Taker will ask you a series of questions to help you remember where you were headed, what roads you took, etc. Remember, it is your responsibility to take note of what street you are on, what cross streets you are near, what mile markers you passed, etc. Keeping your location in mind will enable the 9-1-1 Call Taker to dispatch help more quickly and efficiently.

Why does my cell phone call 9-1-1 by accident?

Many of us use our cell phones, hang up, and set the cell phone in a holder or on the passenger seat. Many cell phones are pre-programmed tocall 9-1-1 when the quick key is pressed. Be sure to lock your key pad so 9-1-1 is not accidentally dialed.

What if I can only communicate by TDD or computer?

The Emergency Communications 9-1-1 Center isequipped with TDD (Teletype Device for the Deaf) detectors which enable the 9-1-1 Call Taker's to communicate with TDD's from their workstations.

What happens if I don't speak English?

Fulton County's Public Safety Systemprovides immediate translation services for all languages. The Emergency Communications 9-1-1 Center has access to Language Line services providing translation for over 140 languages.

What should I teach my children about 9-1-1?

Many 9-1-1 hang-up calls are made by children playing with the telephone. Each time a 9-1-1 hang-up call is received, the 9-1-1 Call Taker must immediately call back the phone number to determine if there is an emergency. If there is no answer on callback, law enforcement personnel will immediately be dispatched to check the well-being of any persons at the location.

If, on callback, there is an answer, the 9-1-1 Call Taker will question the person (an adult) who answers the phone to determine if an emergency exists. The 9-1-1 Call Taker's have been trained to "pick up" on any unusual noises or voice inflections to determine if there is a problem at a location without the caller actually advising the 9-1-1 Call Taker.

If a child answers the phone on a callback, the 9-1-1 Call Taker will request to speak to an adult to ensure that everything is okay. Some children are too young to understand what we need (give the phone to an adult), so the 9-1-1 Call Taker will still send an officer to respond.

We ask that adults do not punish children who call 9-1-1 and then hang up, but rather explain to them that 9-1-1 should only be used in an emergency. If children are punished for dialing 9-1-1, it may scare them from using it in the future, whether they have a legitimate emergency or not.

The Emergency Communications 9-1-1 Center also is available to do tours for children (and adults) so they are able to have a better understanding of 9-1-1 and the services provided via Fulton County's Public Safety System. To schedule a tour of the Fulton County Emergency Communications 9-1-1 Center call (404) 612-7900.

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