About 911

What is 911?

911 is a universal 3 digit number that makes it easier to report an emergency. E911 is Enhanced 911 and that means that the location of the call will show up on the computer maps.

When should you call 911?

You should call 911 when you have an emergency. An emergency is considered an immediate threat to persons and/or property. You should also call 911 if you are not familiar with the address or surroundings of where the incident is occurring. 

What should you expect when calling 911?

A trained 911 Supervisor or 911 Dispatcher will answer your phone call. Each employee has had many hours of training in the handling and processing of your emergency. While no two emergencies are alike, they all present many similarities. Therefore, there are common questions that will be asked on ALL emergencies. You will be asked the following questions:

What is the location of the emergency?
What is the nature of the emergency?
What is your name?
What is your phone number?

These are the basic questions that the Dispatcher will be asking to obtain the necessary information from you. They are important to help ensure a timely dispatch and arrival of the appropriate Emergency Response. Do not assume that because you have lived in your house for many years that everyone knows who you are and where you live. The people taking your call and the people responding often times do NOT know where you live.

What does the 911 Center expect from me when I place a 911 call?

We know that for many of you calling 911 is not an every day event. You may be nervous about calling and about the situation you are calling for. We request that you try to remain as calm as possible. While we may be able to get the location of the emergency, we still need to be able to determine what the emergency is to ensure the appropriate response. We do not want to send a police car for someone having a medical emergency. We would like for you to stay on the line until we tell you it is ok to hang up. We would like for you to answer the questions that we are asking. Us asking you questions is NOT delaying Emergency Response in any way but in fact is helping us to determine the appropriate response. We know how to do what is required and it is a waste of time for us to hear over and over "Just send someone". We need to know what is going on to make the appropriate determination on whom to send.

What if I call 911 by mistake?

If you or anyone in your household, including children call 911 by mistake, do not hang up but stay on the line. Cayuga County is an Enhanced 911 center and we can obtain the location of where 911 was called from. If you dial 911 by mistake and hang up, our policy is to try to call back the number and reach an adult who can tell us if there is any problem. We then have to send Law Enforcement to verify that there isn't any problem. This takes Law Enforcement away from being able to handle a real emergency. If you stay on the line and speak with a 911 Center employee, we will ask you to verify that you do not have an emergency and also verify that what shows up on our computer is correct in case you ever do have one. Remember that old, deactivated cell phones can still call 911 as long as there is a charge in the battery. Do not allow your children to play with home phones or cell phones. Children make the majority of 911 hang up calls we get, but we still have to treat them as if they are true emergencies.

Can you find me if I call 911 from my cell phone?

If your cell phone is equipped with GPS we should be able to pin point your approximate location. Each cell phone provider has different standards that they use so not all are have the same accuracy. If you have an older cell phone that does not have GPS you will need to stay on the line and try as best as you can to direct the Dispatcher to your location. 

When you call 911 from your cell phone, your call will hit the nearest tower of your cell phone provider. So while you may be in Cayuga County using your cell phone, you may actually hit a tower in another County and your call will be directed to that County. Just explain that your emergency is in Cayuga County and they will transfer you to us.

Also, keep in mind that cell phone calls are not always very clear. There is a routing process that they have to go through and sometimes the beginning of the call is broken up. Please be patient as the Dispatcher is doing everything they can to assist you.

How can I help Emergency Responders find me faster?

Make sure that your house and/or mailbox are numbered with the correct address. Reflective numbers work best for dark.

If it is dark outside, turn some outside lights on to aide responders in finding your house. If you can hear the siren and are able to reach the light switch, start turning it on and off so that it flickers and draws the attention of the responders.

If you have a long driveway or your house is not easily seen from the road, try to have someone at the end of the driveway by the road to flag down responders.

Consider placing driveway markers at the end of your driveway to help responders find it.

Put all pets safely away. Responders will refrain from exiting their vehicles or entering a residence if there is a dog barking and growling at them.

Have a list handy of all medications that are taken by the people who reside with you.

Police Emergency

A police emergency is any situation that requires immediate police response to protect life and/or property. These may include but are not limited to: Domestics, Burglaries, Assaults, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Suicides or Damage to property. Try to remain calm while talking to the Dispatcher and stay on the line until they tell you it is ok to hang up. You may have to remain on the line until responding Law Enforcement arrives on the scene. Depending on the situation, the Dispatcher will be asking questions that will help ensure officer safety, public safety and your safety. While obtaining information about the situation you will be asked if you and/or other people involved are safe. If the answer is no, they will try to help you to get yourself and others to a safer location.

As well as the questions that are asked for all emergencies, you may be asked the following questions depending on the situation:

  • Who is involved in the situation?
  • Is it in progress or when did it occur?
  • Are there any weapons involved (ie: guns, knives, sticks etc)?
  • Has anyone been drinking or using drugs?
  • Is anyone injured?
  • Do you have a description of the suspect or other subjects involved?
  • Do you have a description or license plate number of any vehicles involved?
  • Is anyone in danger?
  • Do you know where the suspect or other subjects involved are at this time?

There may be other questions that arise due to the answers to any of the above questions.

Things to remember:

You do not have to give your name to report a crime, but it does help the Police to know in case they need further information that only you may be able to provide.

It is a crime to falsely report a crime; so make sure you are giving factual information when reporting a crime or emergency. Not doing so may delay response to an actual emergency causing injury or death to another person.

If you come across a Police Emergency, do not place yourself in harms way before giving assistance.

Fire Emergency

A Fire Emergency is any that requires an immediate response from a Fire Department. These could include but are not limited to: House Fires, Car Fires, Field Fires, and Weather Related Emergencies. Stay as calm as possible and answer the questions that are being asked. Remember that we are not delaying Emergency Response by asking these questions. Do not hang up the line until you are advised to do so. You may be asked to stay on the line until Emergency Responders arrive on the scene.

As well as the questions that are asked for all emergencies, you may be asked the following questions:

  • What is on Fire?
  • Can you and others in the structure get out or are you trapped?
  • If you are trapped, where in the building are you and others?
  • If the fire is a vehicle or field fire you may be asked how close to a structure the fire is.

There may be other questions that arise due to the answers to any of the above questions.

Things to remember:

DO NOT PANIC! Remain calm. 

IF YOU ARE IN A BURNING BUILDING, TRY TO GET YOURSELF AND OTHERS OUT IMMEDIATELY! Do not try to save valuables or pets. Once outside, NEVER go back in. If someone is still inside try to determine where they are and see if they can get to a window then attempt to reach them from outside.

If you are trapped in a burning building: DO NOT PANIC! Try to put as much space or as many rooms between yourself and the fire. Close all the doors between you and the fire. If you have a phone with you, call 911 immediately and let them know where in the building you are. Seal the bottom of the door with sheets, rugs, clothing or anything else you can find to prevent smoke from coming in. Remain close to the floor and near a window. When you can hear or see the Fire Department get to the window and do whatever you can to attract their attention.

If you come across a Fire Emergency, do not place yourself in harms way before trying to assist.

Have an escape plan for your house and make sure everyone in your household is familiar with it. Practice it often especially for younger children until everyone knows what to do.

Check your smoke detectors frequently to ensure they are working and replace batteries regularly. Early detection is the best way to get everyone out safely.

Your local Fire Department will be more than happy to help you learn Fire Prevention.

Medical Emergency

A Medical Emergency is any that requires immediate response from an Ambulance Service. In Cayuga County most areas will also send a Fire Department Response. These may include but are not limited to: Heart Attacks, Injuries from falls, Illnesses, Allergic Reactions and Seizures. Remain calm, answer the questions that are asked and do not hang up until told to do so. 

As well as the questions that are asked for all emergencies, you may be asked the following questions depending on the situation:

  • How many patients?
  • How old is the patient?
  • Does the patient have a medical history that is pertinent to what is going on now?
  • How far did the patient fall (how many steps or from what height)?
  • Where is the patient? Are they inside, outside, in a field or where?
  • Is the patient breathing ok?

There may be other questions that arise due to the answers to any of the above questions.

Would you be able to provide assistance to the patient? If you are, your call will be transferred to an outside agency that provides pre-arrival assistance for us. This does not delay Emergency Response and can help the patient until Medical arrives on the scene.

Things to Remember:

Quick response to a Medical Emergency can make a difference. 

The best way to respond to a Medical Emergency is to have appropriate training beforehand. You can take CPR or First Aid classes through the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association or through some community groups.

If you come across a Medical Emergency, first make sure you do not place yourself in harms way before trying to give assistance.

If you find someone that has been injured, do not move him or her but try to cover him or her with a blanket, jacket or something that will keep him or her warm. Even in warm weather, shock can set in.

If the person is bleeding, try to find a clean cloth to put over the wound and apply direct, firm pressure until medical help arrives.

What is 911? - Printable Document (Adobe PDF File)