What is an Emergency?

An emergency is defined as: “An event or occurrence demanding immediate action; or any condition endangering or thought to be endangering life or property”


  • Accidents with Injuries
  • Fire (or smell of smoke)
  • Crime in Progress
  • Breathing Problems
  • Choking/unconscious person
  • Poisoning
  • Drowning
  • Stabbing, shooting
  • Fights or displays of weapons
  • Other life-threatening situations

Not An Emergency

  • Minor accidents (no injuries)
  • Barking dogs
  • Late report of crime
  • Power outage during a storm
  • Abandoned vehicle
  • Loud Parties
  • Weather and road conditions
  • Keys locked in vehicle
  • Runaways
  • Legal advice

For a Non-Emergency call (304) 485-8501

Download the 911 Information Sheet

DO NOT call 9-1-1 for information, directory assistance, when you’re bored and just want to talk, for paying tickets, for your pet, as a prank.

What About 9-1-1 Prank Calls?

It’s a prank call when someone calls 9-1-1 for a joke, or calls 9-1-1 and hangs up. Prank calls not only waste time and money, but can also be dangerous. If 9-1-1 lines or Telecommunicators are busy with prank calls, someone with a real emergency may not be able to get the help they need. In most places, it’s against the law to make prank 9-1-1 calls.

If you call 9-1-1 by mistake, DO NOT hang up. Tell the Telecommunicator what happened so they know there is not an emergency.

Dialing Tips and Procedures

If an emergency situation arises (a crime, a fire, a serious injury or illness) ask yourself whether POLICE, FIRE DEPARTMENT, or MEDICAL assistance is needed RIGHT NOW to protect life or property. If the answer is yes, then immediately dial 9-1-1 and tell the Telecommunicator what has happened or is happening. If you are ever in doubt of whether a situation is an emergency you should call 9-1-1. It’s better to be safe and let the 9-1-1 Telecommunicator determine if you need emergency assistance.

When Dialing 911 You Should

  • Stay calm. Give your name, location, and nature of the emergency.
  • Listen carefully to the Telecommunicator for helpful information.
  • Answer the Telecommunicator’s questions as accurately as possible. Speak clearly and slowly.
  • NEVER hang up on the 9-1-1 Telecommunicator until you are told to do so.
  • If there’s a fire, stay low in the smoke and get out of the house. Call from a neighbor’s house or pay phone.

Ideas to Help at Home

  • Keep your phone at an easy to reach level, like on the coffee table.
  • A cordless phone offers you mobility in your home.
  • Write your address and telephone number in large print on or near your phone.
  • Make sure your address is on the FRONT of your house.
  • Do not program 9-1-1 into the speed dial. It can inadvertently be dialed.
  • TEACH your children how to use 9-1-1 for emergencies.

Hearing/Speech Impaired Callers

Communications centers that answer 9-1-1 calls have special text telephones to respond to 9-1-1 calls from deaf or hearing/speech impaired callers. If a caller uses a TTY/TDD, the caller should:

  • Stay calm. Place the phone receiver in the TTY, dial 9-1-1.
  • After the call is answered, press the TTY keys several times. This may help shorten the time necessary to respond to the call.
  • Give the telecommunicator time to connect their TTY. If necessary, press the TTY keys again. The 9-1-1 telecommunicator should answer and type “GA” for go ahead.
  • Tell the telecommunicator what the emergency is and what assistance you require; tell him or her if you need the fire department, police, or EMS. Give your name, phone number, and the address where help is needed.
  • Stay on the telephone if it is safe. Answer the telecommunicator’s questions.

Types of Phones You Can Use

  • Touch Tone
  • Cordless
  • Rotary
  • Cellular/Mobile
  • Pay Phones (No money is needed–simply press the numbers 9-1-1)
  • TDD/TTY (Deaf and Hearing/Speech Impaired)

Calling 911 on a Cellular Phone

  • If you are in your vehicle, pull off to the side of the road
  • Dial 9-1-1
  • Tell the Telecommunicator the location of the emergency and your call back cellular phone number.
  • Be Patient.

Ready to Call 911?

9-1-1 Telecommunicators are trained to get as much information as possible regarding 9-1-1 calls. To be ready to answer their questions, read these examples of the three most common 9-1-1 calls:

  • Automobile Accident
  • Give the Street and block number or the nearest major location.
  • Tell if there are injuries.
  • Report information such as fuel spills, possible fire danger, etc.
  • Suspicious Person
  • Give the sex, race, age of the person(s).
  • Give a clothing description.
  • Describe the suspicious activity.
  • Suspicious Vehicle
  • Get the vehicle description, color, make, model, year, and anything unusual about the vehicle. Try to tell all that you can.
  • Are there people in the vehicle? If so, how many? Age? Race? Sex? Clothing description?
  • Is the vehicle parked or moving? If it’s moving, tell the direction of travel.

What to do if you can’t speak?

  • Stay calm
  • Dial 9-1-1
  • Either leave the phone hanging or make some sort of noise to let the dispatcher know there is an emergency.

In an emergency, remember to…

  • Dial 9-1-1
  • Stay Calm
  • State which emergency service you need: Police/Sheriff, Fire Department, Emergency Medical Service
  • Speak Clearly
  • State your emergency
  • State your address–it’s very important to verify your address

Remember reasons to call 9-1-1 are:

  • Crimes in progress (this means shots fired, disturbances, suspicious persons or activities, crimes involving serious injury)
  • Accidents, accidents with injury
  • Life and Death Situations
  • Medical Emergencies
  • Someone is Injured
  • To Prevent a Crime
  • To Report a Fire

Tips for Seniors

  • Invest in a touch-tone phone with large, easy-to-read numbers. Put a DIAL 9-1-1 reminder next to the phone.
  • Keep your medical history and a list of the medications you are taking in an envelope taped to your refrigerator with your doctor’s name and phone number on it.
  • Do not dial “0” for help. DIAL 9-1-1