The enhanced 9-1-1 System began operating in Washington State in September, 1985, when King County first offered this service. All 39 counties in Washington offer Enhanced 9-1-1 services. All telephones, even coin phones, are part of the 9-1-1 system. Every year millions of calls for help are routed through 9-1-1. The system provides benefits to citizens who need assistance from police, fire, and medical personnel.

What Does Enhanced 9-1-1 Do For Me?

  • You only have to remember one number in an emergency – 9-1-1. Before callers had to know which district they were in and the correct seven-digit number to call.
  • The system determines which police and fire departments respond to the caller’s location. It then routes the call to the communications center that dispatches for these departments.
  • When you call 9-1-1 the phone number and location you are calling from automatically display on a screen at the communications center. If you cannot give your location, the 9-1-1 telecommunicator will know where you are and can send help.

NOTE: There are some phones that are unable to pass location information on to the 9-1-1 system. These include cellular phones and phones on some Private Branch Exchange (PBX) systems.

When Should I Call 9-1-1?

Whenever you need help from police, fire, or emergency medical personnel. If you are unsure you have an emergency, dial 9-1-1 and let the communication center decide what action to take. Information about your call to 9-1-1 is considered personal and is used only to direct emergency response.

Do NOT call 9-1-1 for information. Refer to your telephone book for the business telephone number of your police and fire departments for information.

What Happens To My Call?

  • The system will route your call to the appropriate department’s communication center.
  • The 9-1-1 telecommunicator will ask why you are calling. If necessary, your call may be transferred to another communications center.
  • You will be asked for your address, phone number, name, and to describe the situation. Stay calm. Answer the telecommunicator’s questions.
  • The 9-1-1 telecommunicator will confirm you’re your location and assess the situation. The communications center will then determine an appropriate response.
  • Be sure to stay on the line. Do not hang up until told to do so. Only hang up if your safety is threatened.

What Can I Do For 9-1-1?

Keep the telephone company informed of any changes in your name and address. Post your house number where it can easily be seen by responding emergency personnel. Do not use any telephone for the first few hours after a disaster situation, unless it is a life-threatening emergency. Do not call 9-1-1 unless you have a life-threatening emergency.