How do I know if a situation warrants calling 9-1-1?

Any situation that is life-threatening or involves significant property damage (e.g., a house on fire) should be addressed by calling 9-1-1. Click here for more detailed information on when to – and when not to – call 9-1-1.

If I’m in doubt about whether to call or not, should I still call?

Yes. It’s better to be safe and let the 9-1-1 call-taker determine if you need assistance rather than possibly put someone’s life at risk by not taking action.

What if I call 9-1-1 by mistake?

Tell the call-taker that answers what happened so they know there is no emergency. If you hang up without speaking, you may cause the call-taker to believe that you are in danger and send the police to your location.

What are the costs of unnecessary 9-1-1 calls?

Prank calls or obvious non-emergency calls to 9-1-1 waste time and money, and pose a danger to public health. When 9-1-1 telephone lines are tied up by call-takers handling unnecessary calls, someone with a real emergency cannot get through. This is in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated 7-86-316 – 911 calls in nonemergency situations prohibited penalty.

Who pays for 9-1-1?

There is a monthly 9-1-1 service fee that is charged on each telephone line. In Tennessee the monthly service fee is $1.16 per month.


How can people who are deaf or speech/hearing-impaired call 9-1-1?

People who are deaf or speech/hearing-impaired should have access to a TTY/TDD (Teletype/Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) in their home. Communications centers that answer 9-1-1 calls have special software that detects a TTY/TDD transmission If someone needs to use a TTY/TDD to call 9-1-1, he/she should:

Place the phone receiver in the TTY/TDD and dial 9-1-1.

After the call is answered, press the TTY keys several times to notify the call-taker that the call is being transmitted with this system; this may help shorten the response time to the call.

When the call-taker software detects a TTY/TDD call, they will respond/type "GA" for "Go Ahead."

Type Where the emergency is (address), what type of emergency service is needed; police, fire or ambulance – as well as your name and phone number.

If a deaf or speech/hearing-impaired person doesn’t have a TTY/TDD, they should call 9-1-1 and simply leave the line open and try to make noises.

How can non-English speaker use 9-1-1?

A call-taker can add an interpreter from an outside line. In this situation, a non-English speaking caller will hear the call-taker briefly speaking to an interpreter, as well as some clicking sounds on the line before the interpreter addresses the caller. It is important for the caller to remain calm until the interpreter is on the line.