CALLING 911


The Facts About 911: What everyone should know about Middletown's 911 System!
Why do they ask me so many questions?


The call taker is required to ask many questions in order to give responders an accurate picture of your situation. It is important to understand that when an emergency is being reported, responders are usually already on the way while you are on the phone.

The call taker needs to ask the basic 4W’s for every call: Where, what, who, and when. The first two questions of every 911 call are, “911, what’s the address of the emergency?” and “What’s the phone number you are calling from?”

Where: This includes more than just the address. An apartment number, floor, suite, a business name, or the color of your house, will make it easier and quicker for responders to find you.

What: This is the basic “bottom-line” of why you are calling.

Who: This is to identify suspects in crimes, especially if they just left. This will aid officers responding to be on the look out for the suspects. Things like age, race, height, weight, clothing description, and vehicle description.

When: This is when or approximately when the incident occurred. Incidents occurring in progress are a higher priority than incidents that happened long ago.

Emergency Medical Calls

When you call to report a medical emergency, your call will be processed by a professional emergency call-taker with specialized training to deal with crises over the phone. This call taker will be able to provide real-time instruction in CPR, severe bleeding control, child birth, as well as other life-saving first aid techniques.

There are four universal questions that the call taker will ask in order to put their knowledge and experience to work for you quickly and effectively after the address and callback number has been verified.
  • What’s the problem, tell me exactly what happened.
  • How old is the patient?
  • Is the patient conscious?
  • Is the patient breathing?
The call taker will then ask questions about the patient’s specific condition. This aids the dispatcher to determine if a paramedic (advanced life support) is needed and if the responders need to use lights and sirens.

Getting this critical information from the caller typically takes less than 30 seconds. In all cases, remember the most important thing you can do when calling 9-1-1 is to listen carefully and do exactly what the call taker asks you to do.

Police and Fire Calls

Depending on the incident, the call taker may need to ask for specific types of information.

Police Calls
  • Suspect and/or vehicle information.
  • Is anyone in danger?
  • Does anyone have or have access to weapons?
  • Are drugs and/or alcohol involved?
  • Do you want to see the officer?

Fire Calls
  • What exactly is burning?
  • Do you see flames or smoke?
  • Are there any injuries?

REMEMBER: DO NOT GO BACK INSIDE FOR ANY REASON IF YOU ARE REPORTING A FIRE.

Be prepared to tell firefighters where any hazards or trapped people are.

If you have difficulty recognizing if you should or shouldn’t use 9-1-1 to report your incident, dial 9-1-1.

Children and 911

Remember to discuss with your children when and how to call 9-1-1 on all phones (rotary, touch tone, and cell). Never refer to 9-1-1 as nine eleven because this phrase may confuse a child because there is no eleven on the telephone keypad.