What Happens When You Call 911?

Download the Calling 911 Handout (PDF) to get more information regarding what happens once 911 has been called.
Know What Happens When You Call 911
When you call 911 in Harford County to request emergency help, be prepared to answer the call taker's questions. The information is vital to first responders dispatched to the location.
  • Remain as calm as possible; take a deep breath and speak clearly.
  • Provide the location of the incident and the phone number you are calling from.
  • Describe your location: what's the nearest cross street? If help is needed at another location, advise the call-taker.
  • If your house is on fire, leave the house first, then call from a neighbor's phone or use your cell phone.
  • Tell the call-taker the nature of the emergency.
  • If the emergency is on a highway or interstate roadway, try to include the nearest mile-marker in your location description.
  • Answer all of the call-taker's questions to the best of your ability. The answers will help the call-taker/dispatcher determine what kind of emergency aid you need.
  • Keep the answers short and to the point.
  • Follow all instructions given to you by the call-taker.
  • Stay on then line until the call-taker tells you to hang up.
  • Turn on your outside lights and, if possible, send someone out to direct the responding emergency personnel onto your property.

Steps to prepare for a possible emergency

  • Post 911 at the phone: Have 911 posted next to or on all telephones.
  • Display house number: Make sure your house number is displayed so that emergency responders can find your home.
  • Know nearest intersections: Know the nearest intersecting street to your address; this will help the operator provide directions to your location in cases of duplicate street names.
  • Post important information: Post a card with your address, family name and telephone number next to the telephone to assist children and visitors in providing that information in an emergency.
Example of Mile Marker Sign