What is 9-1-1?

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What is 9-1-1?
9-1-1 is the nationwide universal police, fire, and ambulance emergency number.   9-1-1 should be used as an easily remembered access number to report fires, medical problems, and crimes in progress. Steuben County is served by an Enhanced 9-1-1 system. The name, address and phone number of the residential telephone being used to dial 9-1-1 is displayed on a computer screen at the 9-1-1 center.  A map automatically displays the location of the call as well.

There are several major benefits of 9-1-1 to citizens and public safety agencies:  A single, easy to remember; and information a caller may not be able to provide in an emergency is available to assist in locating them if they are unable to speak or know where they are.

9-1-1 Information
You should call 9-1-1 immediately if you encounter the following situations:

  • If you see a crime or a victim of a crime
  • Fires (all fires are emergencies)
  • Life-threatening or potentially life-threatening medical emergencies
  • Serious injuries, illness, poisoning, or gas leak
  • Severe weather (tornado, funnel clouds)
  • Someone is drowning
  • Vehicular accidents
  • Anything you believe requires an emergency response

If you are unable to speak please stay on the line!  Our team will be able to hear background and will send the appropriate responders regardless of whether you can communicate with us.

If you accidently dial 9-1-1 please stay on the line!  Once the last digit is dialed the call will route to the call center.  If we do not speak with you we will call back.  If we cannot reach you law enforcement will be sent to verify your wellbeing.  Stay on the line and let us know you accidently dialed – this will save public safety resources for those who truly need them.

When not to call 9-1-1:

  • Loud party or music
  • Barking dogs or non-hazard animal complaints
  • To ask general directions
  • To report your electricity is out
  • To check for severe weather report
  • To check if a police report is ready
  • Other minor complaints
  • When any situation being reported does not require an emergency response

For these and other situations please call our non-emergency number at (260) 665-5521.  Our team places priority on 9-1-1 calls, with the premise that life and/or property are at risk when these lines ring. 

What should I expect when I call 9-1-1?

  • Remain calm and let us ask the questions. There is very specific information we need and sometimes we need to know it in a very specific order. Try your best to answer the questions that are posed to you.
  • Be prepared to give full location information. We always have to verify what location information we receive on our mapping and computer screens with the caller.
  • Be Patient.   It may seem like nothing is being done to help, but in reality we are doing many things. The caller-taker or their partners will be sending people to help you, assessing our resources, and asking you questions to help identify the best way to proceed. Sometimes it feels like it's taking forever for help to arrive, but we are doing our best to combine safety, speed and accuracy.
  • Follow Directions.  We may be giving you very specific instructions about minimizing the danger to yourself or helping those in need.
  • Dispatcher's will stay on the line on all requests for an EMS response until the first medical unit arrives.
  • Don't hang up until told to do so.

Can I call 9-1-1 if I use a TDD?

  • Yes. The Steuben County Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) is equipped with TDD/TTY equipment. Communications professionals receive extensive training in handling emergency situations utilizing this equipment.

Texting 9-1-1

  • The Steuben County Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) is equipped to receive and respond to texts sent to 9-1-1.   We highly encourage people to call 9-1-1 if at all possible however.  Texting at this time does not provide us with location information.
  • We realize there may be times when texting 9-1-1 is the only option.  These may include:
    • When a voice carrier is not available
    • When there is danger that a person may be overheard speaking to a 9-1-1 operator.  This might be if someone has broken into your home not knowing you’re inside.  Please remember though that we will not know your location – this is why we place emphasis on calling 9-1-1 if at all possible.

Can someone call 9-1-1 who does not speak English?

  • Yes. The Steuben County Public Safety Answering Point subscribes to the Language Line, which provides access to interpreters who speak more than 140 languages. The Language Line maintains a 24-hour communications center. Even when receiving a 9-1-1 call from a non-English speaking individual, help is only minutes away.