911 Education



911 Information

Talking About 9-1-1 With Kids

When To Call 9-1-1

How To Use 9-1-1

More Safety Tips

Social Media And 9-1-1 Alerting

1-1-2 Incorrect Emergency Number


Talking About 9-1-1 With Kids

One of the challenges of being a parent is arming your kids with the skills to handle the obstacles life presents. Teaching them how to use 9-1-1 in an emergency could be one of the simplest — and most important — lessons you'll ever share.

Not that long ago, there was a separate telephone number for each type of emergency agency. For a fire, you called the fire department; for a crime, you called the police; for a medical situation, you called an ambulance or doctor.

But now 9-1-1 is a central number for all types of emergencies. An emergency dispatch operator quickly takes information from the caller and puts the caller in direct contact with whatever emergency personnel are needed, thus making response time quicker.

According to the National Emergency Number Association, 9-1-1 covers nearly all of the population of the United States, but check your phone book or go online to be sure that 9-1-1 is the emergency number to use in your area.

Everyone needs to know about calling 9-1-1 in an emergency. But kids also need to know the specifics about what an emergency is. Asking them questions like, "What would you do if we had a fire in our house?" or "What would you do if you saw someone trying to break in?" gives you a chance to discuss what constitutes an emergency and what to do if one occurs. Role playing is an especially good way to address various emergency scenarios and give your kids the confidence they'll need to handle them.

For younger children, it might also help to talk about who the emergency workers are in your community — police officers, firefighters, paramedics, doctors, nurses, and so on — and what kinds of things they do to help people who are in trouble. This will clarify not only what types of emergencies can occur, but also who can help.

Cell Phone Sally Friends-250x176

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When to Call 9-1-1

Part of understanding what is an emergency is knowing what is not. A fire, an intruder in the home, an unconscious family member — these are all things that would require a call to 9-1-1. A skinned knee, a stolen bicycle, or a lost pet wouldn't. Still, teach your child that if ever in doubt and there's no adult around to ask, make the call. It's much better to be safe than sorry.

Make sure your kids understand that calling 9-1-1 as a joke is a crime in many places. In some cities, officials estimate that as much as 75% of the calls made to 9-1-1 are non-emergency calls. These are not all pranks. Some people accidentally push the emergency button on their cell phones. Others don't realize that 9-1-1 is for true emergencies only (not for such things as a flat tire or even about a theft that occurred the week before).

Stress that whenever an unnecessary call is made to 9-1-1, it can delay a response to someone who actually needs it. Most areas now have what is called enhanced 9-1-1, which enables a call to be traced to the location from which it was made. So if someone dials 9-1-1 as a prank, emergency personnel could be dispatched directly to that location. Not only could this mean life or death for someone having a real emergency on the other side of town, it also means that it's very likely the prank caller will be caught and punished.

How to Use 9-1-1

Although most 9-1-1 calls are now traced, it's still important for your kids to have your street address and phone number memorized. They'll need to give that information to the operator as a confirmation so time isn't lost sending emergency workers to the wrong address.

Make sure your kids know that even though they shouldn't give personal information to strangers, it's OK to trust the 9-1-1 operator. Walk them through some of the questions the operator will ask, including:

  • Where are you calling from? (Where do you live?)
  • What type of emergency is this?
  • Who needs help?
  • Is the person awake and breathing?
  • What is your phone number? (Or call back number?)

Explain that it's OK to be frightened in an emergency, but it's important to stay calm, speak slowly and clearly, and give as much detail to the 9-1-1 operator as possible. If they're old enough to understand, also explain that the emergency dispatcher may give first-aid instructions before emergency workers arrive at the scene.

Make it clear that your child should not hang up until the person on the other end says it's OK, otherwise important instructions or information could be missed.

More Safety Tips

Here are some additional safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Always refer to the emergency number as "nine-one-one" not "nine-eleven." In an emergency, a child may not know how to dial the number correctly because of trying to find the "eleven" button on the phone.
  • Make sure your house number is clearly visible from the street so that police, fire, or ambulance workers can easily locate your address.
  • If you live in an apartment building, make sure your child knows the apartment number and floor you live on.
  • Keep a list of emergency phone numbers handy near each phone for your kids or babysitter. This should include police, fire, and medical numbers (particularly important if you live in one of the few areas where 911 is not in effect), as well as a number where you can be reached, such as your cell phone, pager, or work number. In the confusion of an emergency, calling from a printed list is simpler than looking in the phone book or figuring out which is the correct speed-dial number. The list should also include known allergies (especially to any medication), medical conditions, and insurance information.
  • If you have special circumstances, such as an elderly grandparent or a person with a heart condition, epilepsy, or diabetes living in your home, prepare your child by discussing specific emergencies that could occur and how to spot them.
  • Keep a first-aid kit handy and make sure your kids and babysitters know where to find it. When kids are old enough, teach them basic first aid.

Courtesy of KidsHealth.org


Social Media and 9-1-1 Alerting

Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites have created methods of communicating that are a primary method of communicating between individuals, especially with teens and young adults. Social networking is the predominant method of keeping individuals informed about a variety of current events on both a personal level as well as events in a global community. The popularity of social networking applications has been facilitated by the offering of numerous free or low-cost applications and the mobility provided to consumers through smart phones. This has created a phenomenon where the public may be made aware of a public safety incident prior to the first 9-1-1 call being received at the PSAP to report the emergency. That being said, the National Emergency Number Association [NENA] would like to stress that while social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are a popular means of alerting your friends of events it does not take the place of 9-1-1 in the event of emergencies. [Texting to 9-1-1 is still in the development stages in most areas and prioritizing of text is not expected. That means that when texting to 9-1-1 does become available there is no means to make that text get to its destination any quicker than any other text message. Unlike 9-1-1 where it is delivered on a separate network and therefore a priority.] Law Enforcement Agencies are just beginning to ease into the social network environment by creating Facebook pages [like Fayette County Sheriff’s Office page on Facebook]. There have been instances where friends have alerted Law Enforcement of events they learned through social media [Facebook] but as a means of notification Facebook is not recommended. It is used primarily as a tool for outgoing notification and public information, it is not something that is managed continuously so dial 9-1-1 for emergency situations.


Social Media Posts Urge Americans to call incorrect Emergency Number

You may have seen recent posts on social media sites urging people in the U.S. to dial 1-1-2 rather than 9-1-1 in certain emergencies. This is bad advice. The posts claim that 1-1-2 is especially effective if you are being pulled over in your car and want to ensure that you are dealing with the police. It also claims that by dialing 1-1-2, your call will be answered faster and may go directly to the police.

Here are the facts:

FACT: 1-1-2 is the European emergency number. Several wireless providers offer mobile phones that can use either system for emergency calls, depending on the user’s location.

FACT: While dialing 1-1-2 in the United States may work on certain devices and on certain wireless networks, the only way to ensure that your call for emergency assistance gets through is to dial 9-1-1. When a caller tries to use 1-1-2 in the United States, the call may not go through. Even if it does, 1-1-2 provides no special emergency call handling, in fact, it adds a delay due to it having to be converted to "9-1-1” and then routed to the appropriate 9-1-1 call center.

FACT: No one should ever call 1-1-2 just to "test” if it works; you’ll tie up public safety resources and waste valuable time for people facing real emergencies. The bottom line is that anyone calling for emergency assistance in the United States or Canada should always dial 9-1-1 for the fastest and most effective response.

Help NENA pass on the 9-1-1 FACTS, using #112hoax and @911NENA911; and/or share our post on Facebook at www.facebook.com/911NENA911.

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The Oelwein Police Department was established in 1903


The Oelwein Police Department was established in 1903 as the recognized law enforcement for the City of Oelwein

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