Archive for 911


The first rule is that if you are not sure whether to use 911, but you have a genuine belief that you should do so – call 911. As long as you don’t make a habit of repeated non-emergency, 911 calls, and as long as you believe the information you are providing in your call is true and an emergency, let the operator tell you whether it is an emergency or not.

Illinois law regarding improper 911 calls makes it a felony to call 911 “for the purpose of making or transmitting a false alarm or complaint and reporting information when, at the time the call or transmission is made, the person knows there is no reasonable ground for making the call or transmission and further knows that the call or transmission could result in the emergency response of any public safety agency.” This offense can be a felony, but to be convicted, the call must be false, and you must have no reasonable ground for making the call. In other words, if you truly believe there is an emergency – call 911.

What is an emergency, in the eyes of the 911 system? Generally speaking, anything that requires an ambulance, fire truck, or police vehicle to rapidly respond to your call will be a legitimate emergency. In the words of a larger Illinois Police Department, an emergency is defined as, “any serious medical problem (chest pain, seizure, bleeding), any type of fire (business, car, building), or any life-threatening situation (fights, person with weapons, etc).” The same department goes on to say that “you are also urged to call 9-1-1 to report crimes that are in progress, whether or not a life is threatened.”

A few more words are in order regarding 911 calls. Do not program 911 into your cell or home phone. You don’t want to mistakenly touch the wrong memory dial number, and mistakenly call 911. If you ever mistakenly call 911 – DO NOT HANG UP!!! Let the operator know that your call was a mistake; or you might soon be visited by emergency personnel. You could cause a person who really needs emergency response to wait for the responders to leave your non-emergency, and the delay could cost someone his or her life.

If you have a cellphone, and your car gets a flat tire away from home, or your car breaks down, depending on where your car is located – you might have an emergency. If the car is off the road, and you are safe, a call on your cellphone to 411 might suffice (might cost a few dollars). Find out if your cellular provider makes 411 services available to you. If so you can tell the operator where you are, and the operator can call you a wrecker to tow your car.



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