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IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING AN EMERGENCY CALL 9-1-1


Many questions that we receive in Emergency Services are centered around finding out what happens when a citizen or visitor to Orange County calls 9-1-1.  This brief overview provides a quick view of what happens when someone calls 9-1-1.

  • A member of the public calls 9-1-1
  • The call goes to the 9-1-1 center
  • A telecommunicator takes the call and asks the caller questions to determine the nature of the problem or emergency
  • The telecommunicator enters the answers to the questions into a database
  • The database links all 5 telecommunicators in the 9-1-1 center
  • The telecommunicator dispatches a resource to help
  • The resource depends on:
    • The nature of the emergency (like an injury/illness, fire, larceny, animal bite, communicable disease issue)
    • The location of the caller (Northern Orange County, Chapel Hill, Hillsborough)
    • Safety concerns (Downed power lines, livestock in the roadway, traffic safety, leaking flammable fluids)
  • The telecommunicator tells the responders the caller's location and the nature of the problem
  • The database determines whether lights and sirens will be used
  • Responders communicate with each other to get directions, manage hazards and help the caller

Things to consider with 9-1-1:

  • As long as it is safe for the caller, the telecommunicator will remain on the line on all serious calls until responders arrive
  • If you or your child accidentally dial 9-1-1, a telecommunicator may call you back to determine what happened
  • Clearly and simple answers make the response swifter and more appropriate
  • Stay calm as best you can