If There is an Immediate, Life-threatening Emergency, DIAL 9-1-1.
To report a crime or note suspicious activity, call 9-1-1, even if it is not an “emergency.” It can be frightening to call 9-1-1 for emergency help, but it is important for emergency services personnel to know the information necessary in order to provide proper emergency service to those in need, and even more important for you to stay as calm as possible to assist the 9-1-1 dispatcher.

Keep the following information on hand, and leave it where it will be immediately available in case the need to call 9-1-1 arises. It would be wise to review this information with all members of the family, especially children.

To Report an Incident to 9-1-1
The 9-1-1 operator will need the following information when taking a report of an incident in progress (taking place at the time you call) or one that has happened prior to the call. Giving the operator this information will reduce the number of questions that have to be asked and speed police or fire response.

  • Address where you are now
  • Type of incident: burglary, shoplift, assault, etc.
  • Where and when the incident occurred or is occurring
  • Your name and job title if on the job
  • Where the person(s) committing the incident are located or where they went if they are now gone
  • Description of suspect(s) (for each person involved):
    • Race (White, Black, Asian, Indian, etc.)
    • Sex (male, female)
    • Age (best guess)
    • Height
    • Weight
    • Eyes
    • Clothes (from top to bottom)
  • Description of suspect(s) car
    • Color
    • Year
    • Make
    • Model

Additionally, if you are calling about an incident in progress, the operator will want to know if you have the ability to stall the suspect(s) until police arrives.

There will be additional information that the operator and responding units will need to know. Remember: help is already on the way – the operator is gathering more information for the responding units.

Cell Phone ABCs for 9-1-1 Calls
Cell phones are an important public safety tool, but they also create challenges for public safety and emergency responders. It is important for cell phone users, who are calling 9-1-1, to remember some basic ABCs:

A – Always be Aware of your surroundings. Tell the 9-1-1 operator the location of the emergency. Provide landmarks such as cross streets and mileposts.
B – Be Prepared. Memorize the cell phone number so it can be readily given to the 9-1-1 operator when asked.
C – Stay Connected. Do not hang up until told to do so. If you should get disconnected, call the 9-1-1 operator back.

Accidental 9-1-1 Calls on Cell Phones
Accidental 9-1-1 calls occur so often they overload Washington’s 9-1-1 phone system. A 2004 survey of Washington’s counties indicated that one-half of all 9-1-1 cell phone calls were accidentally dialed.

Help Prevent This Growing Crises. Eliminate Misdialing by Following Three Easy Steps:
 Lock your keypad. Refer to your phone’s user manual for instructions.
2. Turn off the 9-1-1 Auto-dial feature. Not all cell phones have this feature.
3. Do not Program 9-1-1 into the Speed Dial.

If you do accidentally dial 9-1-1, stay on the phone. Before you hang up, tell the 9-1-1 operator that your call is a misdial.

For more information, contact Washington State Enhanced 9-1-1 Office at 1-800-562-6108, or visit their website at: WA State Enhanced 9-1-1 Office