The First Thing You Need To Say When Calling 911 From Your Cell Phone

When you’re in an emergency situation, the first thing you do, of course, is call 911. But, it’s often hard to remain calm and think straight in the middle of an emergency. While it is important to explain the situation and say who you are, it’s even more important to first tell the dispatcher where you are.

It may seem like in 2017, when GPS is integrated into every device we come in contact with, that 911 dispatchers should be able to figure where we are—whether or not we actually tell them. But, that is not the case. According to the FCC, 911 calls from mobile phones pose unique challenges.

First, because cell phones are mobile, they are not associated with an exact location or address, like a landline phone would be. The location of the cell site closest to the caller can give the operator a general idea of where you’re calling from, but it’s not specific enough to send help quickly.

Second, cell phones can drop calls and there have even been cases where subscribers of certain cell services were simply unable to call 911. It happened with AT&T earlier this year and Verizon Wireless in 2015.

In a situation where your call was dropped or the 911 service became unavailable, if the dispatchers heard your location before the drop, they would likely still able to send help.

After telling the dispatcher your exact location, give them your phone number. Telling them your number will ensure that if your call were to drop or if, in the haze that is an emergency situation, you accidentally hang up the phone, the dispatcher can call you back.

Once your location and phone number is established, tell the dispatcher your name and explain the situation.

Remaining calm is important, as it helps the dispatcher understand what is happening, so he or she can send the correct help as quickly as possible.

Providing all of the relevant details in an emergency situation can be quite difficult, but if you can at least remember what to say first, it could literally mean the difference between life and death.

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