When to Call 911

When to Call 911

An emergency is any situation that requires immediate assistance from the law enforcement, fire personnel or ambulance services. If you are not sure whether the situation is a true emergency, it is okay to call 911 and let the dispatcher determine whether you need emergency services. When you call 911, be prepared to answer questions, such as the location of the emergency, phone number you are calling from, nature of the situation, and any other important details. Do not hang up until the dispatcher instructs you to do so. If you dial 911 by mistake, do not hang up as they may send responders to your location to determine what has occurred. Instead, stay on the line and explain the error.

Text to 911

Marshall County residents now have the ability to text 911 during emergencies on all major cell phone providers to include Verizon, AT&T, I-Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular. Law enforcement stresses the importance that it is always better to call 911 in an emergency if possible. However, texting can be used in situations in which a voice call to 911 would endanger the caller, such as during a home invasion or a domestic situation. Sending a text to 911 can also be helpful in situations in which a medical condition makes it impossible for the caller to speak.

When someone uses Text to 911 the very first question they will be asked by the dispatcher is “where are you?” Cell phones use radio towers to help in locating the general area of the caller. Being able to text your location will greatly assist 911 in getting law enforcement and other first responders to you as quickly as possible.

Things to Remember When Texting 911

  • Voice calls are always preferred when possible
  • To send a text, enter the numbers “911” in the “To” field
  • Keep the text message brief and include the location of the emergency and type of help needed
  • Photos and videos cannot be accepted by 911 at this time
  • Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the dispatcher
  • Use simple words. Do not use abbreviations
  • Be aware that even if your cell phone carrier in your county supports text messages to 911, there may be times when you are unable to send a text if your cell signal is picked up by a tower in a county where text-to-911 is not available.

More Information

For more information visit Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management https://www.homelandsecurity.iowa.gov/programs/Text-to-911.html or contact 911 Manager Rhonda Braudis at 641-754-4750 or rbraudis@marshalltown-ia.gov.