911 Education

Where are you right now? Could you tell 9-1-1 exactly where to find you? Knowing where you are at all times will help you in an emergency.

9-1-1: Call if you can, text if you can’t.  
Because texting to 9-1-1 is not available in most areas, your local 9-1-1 call center may not be able to accept text messages.   You may check with your local 9-1-1 center or the FCC to see if texting is available in your 9-1-1 call center. Even if text-to-9-1-1 is available, a voice call continues to be the best way to reach 9-1-1.

Some basic facts about 9-1-1:

  1. An estimated 240 million calls are made to 9-1-1 in the U.S. each year. According to the Federal Communications Commission, one-third are wireless calls; in many communities, it's one-half or more of all 9-1-1 calls.
  2. Estimates are that nearly 29.7% of all U.S. Households currently rely on wireless as their primary service as of June 2011.
  3. In 1968 AT&T announced it would establish the digits 911 as the emergency code throughout the United States.
  4. By the end of the 20th century, nearly 93% of the population of the United States was covered by some type of 9-1-1 service. Ninety-five percent of that coverage was Enhanced 911.

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Be 9-1-1 Ready
Know Where You Are:
  • When calling 911, one of the first things you'll be asked to provide is the location of the emergency you're reporting. The call taker may not automatically know your location or may ask you to confirm it. Make sure you provide as much detail on your location as possible, such as landmarks, cross streets and mileposts.
Don't Text to 9-1-1:
  • Rhode Island does not yet have the ability to accept text messages, photos and video. Know that a voice call continues to be the best way to reach 911.
Use a Landline Phone:
  • Whenever possible, use a landline phone to call 911. Cell phone calls aren't always routed to the closest call center and it will take time to transfer your call to the correct City or Town.
Stay Calm & Ready to Listen:
  • 911 is here to help you through until help arrives. Be ready to listen and follow directions.
Frequently asked questions about the Rhode Island Enhanced 9-1-1 system
What is considered a 9-1-1 Emergency?
A 9-1-1 emergency is defined as an incident, which requires immediate police, fire, or emergency medical attention. NEVER call 9-1-1 for information, directions, directory assistance, or as a prank. However, if in doubt whether questionable situations are indeed emergencies, DO NOT HESITATE to call 9-1-1.

What if I am unable to speak and I need help?
The 9-1-1 system allows the Telecommunicator to "know" where you are calling from if you are using a wireline phone. If you cannot speak - for instance, if you are experiencing a medical emergency or there is an intruder in your home, just dial 9-1-1 and leave the phone off the hook. DO NOT HANG UP. Help will be sent to you.

For more RI specific information visit the State of RI Uniform Emergency Telephone System Website
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