June 10, 2010
Proper Use of the E911 System
E911 was begun in 1992 by the State of NH to provide the public with easier access to emergency services across the state. The first call to E911 was on July 5, 1995. Each year E911 gets thousands of calls by people in need of emergency services. Unfortunately, E911 also gets many calls from the general public that are not emergencies and tie up E911 operators.
E911 should be used when someone needs immediate emergency services such as an ambulance for medical services, the fire department for a fire, or police for reporting a crime that is in progress or has just occurred. Although there are many other reasons for calling E911, some calls to E911 should instead be made to local police or State Police, or other emergency services directly for their needs.
When calling E911, think about the urgency of the call. Do you or someone else need immediate medical services for a serious or life threatening injury? Is there a fire or gas leak where the fire department is needed? Did you just witness a crime, an accident or were you a victim of a crime that just occurred? There are certainly additional valid reasons for calling E911. If you are not sure if the call is an emergency, don’t hesitate to call.
Some calls that may need emergency services but that would be better handled by calling the proper agency directly can be a burglary that you just discovered at a seasonal camp that may be months old, an update on a crime already reported, or a question on fire services for your local fire department. These calls are certainly important but do not require immediate emergency services where the use of E911 would be justified.
Another important thing to remember when using your phone is misdialing 911. With many more phone numbers starting with “9”, such as 922 and 991, misdials are on the rise. If you dial 911 by mistake, please do not hang up when an operator answers. Explain that you where dialing another number and made a mistake. By doing this, the operator can try and verify that there is no emergency. Be aware that most police agencies, if not all in the State of NH, have policies requiring an officer to go to the place of the call and verify that there is no emergency. There are times when victims of crimes are forced or intimidated to say that there is not an emergency. For this reason, an officer may very well visit you to be sure you are all right. Also, don’t be embarrassed if you dial E911 by mistake. You would not be the first person and will not be the last.
For more information on E911, please visit www.nh.gov/nh911.