Picture of When and 'How' to dial 9.1.1; Before and during
Most all countries have an emergency phone number; in Canada and the USA it's 911; In England 999, Australia 000, and other countries, numbers such as 112, 449, or even 7, 8, or 9-digit numbers are used. Japan uses 119. From herein I'll refer to all emergency agencies as simply '911'.

PMDerinsleep added:
turkish numbers are 112 for ambulance, 155 for police, 110 for fire;
and 156 for 'gendame' (sic), o/a jandarma, which is half-police half-soldier.

This number can be daunting if you're unfamiliar with the system, what the number is used for, as well as how and when to use the number. This instructable aims to inform the reader on how to prepare for an emergency call, what to do when calling, and what is likely expected of the caller. The questions asked will vary by location and 911 service, but most all will ask for the same type of data.

My background: I'm a 911 dispatcher in Canada. I'm one of the thousands of people in the world on the other end of the phone when you have an emergency. I took quite a bit of training in dealing with people, specifically to ascertain information. This information is to get with our motto - to send the right response, to the right place, at the right time, as safely as possible.

This instructable does NOT aim to give any medical or safety instructions pertaining to ANY call types. Not only for reasons of liability, but for your own safety it is best to follow the instructions given by the operator when you call 911. I can with clean conscience suggest that all people get a lifesaving/first aid course and maintain CPR/AED/First Aid certification as per local standards. Brushing up on your local/provincial/state laws regarding protection of good samaritans is also a good idea.

Note - sorry to those who found/are reading this because of the proximity to the 9/11 tragedy, I just looked at the calendar on the computer and it reminded me of what I say 200 times a day at work - and how much I've been meaning to write this instructable.
Eunix2 years ago
Whoa ! 1,550 views and no favorites?
Then I'll be the first to favorite this.
BTW great instructable!
frollard (author)  Eunix2 years ago
The favourite system was phased in some time last year when they phased out 'vote out of 5 stars' - so now the view count is much lower per unit time...It was highly rated at the time - but that is gone :D

Thanks for the comment!
Awesome. This really needed to be said. I am an EMT in Kansas (other wise known as basic paramedic outside the US). One thing that could really help you out if you have an emergency at your home is a more visible house number. You can get the light up solar kind that sits out in your yard or you could add glow in the dark paint. There is also some kind of paint you can put over the numbers on your house that is clear during the day but at night when we put our spotlight on it it shines like the sun, i have a feeling its probably a scotch brite product but let me tell you, it makes finding that house at 3am so much faster.
frollard (author)  geewizartcool2 years ago
I'm going to add this -- It's all well and good to know where you are if where you are is nondescript :D

Thanks for the tip!
*As I dispatch, I hate having the crews come back and say "none of the houses have numbers"...really adds delay to the process.
rrrmanion3 years ago
definitely worth reading. I volunteer as a first aider at British Red Cross, I will tell one of the trainers about this, as more information about what to say when making the call would be helpful, they only say to remain calm and be specific that the casualty is not breathing in their basic life support course (which mainly consists of CPR)
frollard (author)  rrrmanion3 years ago
Thanks for the comment: it's true. The sooner we get the information needed to begin lifesaving instructions the better.
I am an EMT, and I was incredibly frustrated and angry when I called 911 . My friend had a compromised airway, was diaphoretic, poor cap refill and had severe chest pain. I was extremley clear about the situation and yet the 911 operator constantly asked me the same questions over and over, wasting precious time. The paramedic that arrived had the nerve to tell me that my friend probably had indegestion. Later, my best friend died. This was a priority one situation, and yet I was treated like I was calling in about a hang nail. It's my policy to be positive and kind when I make comments on the Instructables board, but I had to voice my extreme concern. 
frollard (author)  porcupinemamma3 years ago
I never noticed this message so long ago, sorry for late reply;

It's helpful and harmful when you have more information than is required -- yes, I agree all the symptoms you mentioned are pri-1. Only problem lies in that most, and I must emphasize most (>90%) of comms folk worldwide are not medically trained. Nobody's perfect and I can't comment to your case obviously but there is certain information that has to come in the right order -- hence why this instructable doesn't teach the questions.

In an emergency situation, we need very few things to get a pre-alert out, namely location, preferably phone, and general idea of what's going on. The rest is serial linear questioning to stay on track -- extra information out of order can HURT the process.

for example, when I get a call from a doctor/nurse and I ask tell me exactly what happened, they volunteer at the start "my pt is diaphoretic, poor cap refill, a/o 2/4, sat 67, bp 190/100, high potassium, hasn't had a bowel movement in 3 days", none of that is a direct answer to a question that we can reasonably assume. I'll do my best to remember it, but the start of a call I'm pressing for priority symptoms. If they just said "chest pain" or heart attack off the get-go, then we've saved 20 seconds of dialogue. A question with a clear answer already volunteered can be considered answered but like I said before, if the answer was not the target of a previous question it's information easily lost.

As for asking 'the same questions' then that's just poor communication. I would put forward an inquiry to that call to see if procedure was followed.
Thanks Frolard,
It's far too late, and still a very painful memory. I miss my friend very much. Basically I gave the info you described and stuck to address, phone number airway breathing and circulation, but probably with too much info since I immediately kicked into EMT mode, and I knew my friend was in crisis.

It also happened in Canada, back when there were just "ambulance attendents" with very basic training (couldn't hang IV's, couldn't intabate etc.) and most Canadians did not know what an EMT was. This is not a bash at Canada-it's just the way it was. I was trained in the USA where the program spinned off of Vietnam medic training during the war.

Training has come a very long way in Canada since my friend died. I can certainly see where you are coming from, and what you say makes sense. I will remember what you have told me. Thank you very very much for listening, and helping.

Thank you also for posting your Instructable.
frollard (author)  porcupinemamma3 years ago
Again, I'm sorry for your loss -- that sounds like quite some time ago, and I hope things (industry) have improved since then -- all our 'rules' are written in blood, unfortunately something bad had to happen to lead things to how they are today.
Thanks for spending your time to help me work through this-I never really did until now.
Anaphlaphteic shock?...cant spell yew kno what i mean.. Paramedic got charge for neglect huh?
When the ambulance has been dispatched, and iIf possible, have someone other than the person staying with the patient quickly flash the front porch lights on and off. It really helps the driver figure out where to head. If someone else is able to stand at the end of the driveway and wave their arms, it's also really helpful.
frollard (author)  porcupinemamma3 years ago
A waver is definitely a plus!
Mexico. 066 police, Mex-065, Fire 068

HAZMAT - chemtec- 866-222-2177 US and MX
alexpja6 years ago
in poland, 997 is police, 998 is fire, and 999 is hospital sources: my mother (im 100% polish, born in chicago...)
frollard (author)  alexpja6 years ago
Thanks for the info!
No prob.
dehlome alexpja4 years ago
What about your mother?
Read this about a year ago and thought I'd never need it.

At my work, a dairy (convenience store), one of the pie warmers caught fire and I had to ring 111.

These instructions helped a lot when talking to the operator! Your quote of: "When you have an emergency, time seems to stand still." was true!

Glad it helped! How did your disaster turn out?
Well it was rather interesting. We were standing outside the shop while all of this smoke billowing out of the door, and we had a lot of customers walk past and ask 'What did you do". No permanent damage was done. The firemen took the pie warmer out side to inspect it (see photo)

After an electrician looked over the pie warmer, it turns out that the previous electrician ran the live wire right beside the heater element!
aramanthe5 years ago

Does your agency use the ProQA system? I recognize some of the questioning and wording from the system.

I'm a 911 dispatcher in Texas and this is definitely a helpful 'able. Our city recently transferred to a consolidated dispatch center; we have Ambulance, Fire, Police, and Animal control dispatchers in the same room as calltakers. After we did that, the city sent out a newsletter in the water bills with tips on how to call 911 and what to do, what info to have, etc. I wish they would've sent this out instead! 

frollard (author)  aramanthe5 years ago
*and welcome to instructables!
frollard (author)  aramanthe5 years ago
Thanks for the kind words!

its not spelled gendame its jandarma =P
 instead of publically pointing  out the author's spelling errors, use the private message option, or better still, look past the error and appreciate the core message of the posted instructable.
 it wasn't a attack on his spelling its a Turkish word i dont expect him to know it i was just telling him the correct way of writing a foreign word. 

"discression" is the operative word.  Enough said.

frollard (author)  looking4ideas6 years ago
Definitely good to know...
Warlrosity6 years ago
What is 911?
frollard (author)  Warlrosity6 years ago
Where are you from Mr.Pug? 911 is the emergency phone number in USA and Canada. In England, 999. Many different countries use a different short number to get help on the phone.
I'm in the Sydney area in Australia, our number is 000, as you said earlier.
If you dial 000 and don't do/say anything, the fire brigade turns up.
frollard (author)  caarntedd5 years ago
I was speaking to a new friend in Austrailia just last night about this, 112 is regular police fire ambulance and 000 is wildfires...neat stuff!

Everything is 000 where I am. (Sydney) 112 works from mobile (cell) phones even if they are locked. Also I think there is a new system (don't know if it has been implemented anywhere yet) where dialing any one of the emergency numbers that you have mentioned here, including 112, will automatically divert to 000.
We get alot of US television here, and itis amazing how many people try to call 911. (By the way I am a firefighter).

Where is your new friend located?

frollard (author)  caarntedd5 years ago
I believe in the far south, I don't recall exactly - it was a quick video game chat about it.
Oh, whoops.Australia,
northantrim5 years ago

Very good, helpful instructable.
This could save more lives, people no know when TO and when NOT to dial 911, therefore lines aren't held up.

I 'd like to be a 911 operator.

People know when TO and when NOT...

Could also speed up the process, if people have all the info written down, then it's quicker to explain.
frollard (author)  northantrim5 years ago
The only piece of advice I can really really give that is universal to every situation - since each dispatch center does it differently -- Know where you are.  If you're visiting somewhere, note where its written, or get it written by the phone.  If you're driving, set/reset your odometer often to say "I'm x kilometers outside of y town" rather than 'somewhere past x'
northantrim5 years ago
Awesome extra buttons?

What do they do?
frollard (author)  northantrim5 years ago
speed dials to various dispatch centers, fire stations, and other emergency services like translation services, utilities, poison control - etc.
Gorfram6 years ago
Thanks for writing this - it's vey helpful & good stuff to know. Something I've always wondered (since 9-1-1 service started, anyway) - why is it different in different countries? Getting two sovererign nations to agree on anything at all is tricky, I know; but I evny the British only having to dial one easy-to-find numeral three times - I worry that I'd be too klutzy to find the "1" button after managing the "9," in the case that the person trying to rob me during a building fire suddenly started having convulsions (or whatever other 911-worthy scenario springs to mind).
frollard (author)  Gorfram6 years ago
In North America - 911 was one of the last 'untaken' area codes :D Just ironic they came up with the poles on the phone dial.
so you are a 911 operator
frollard (author)  Chromatica6 years ago
Indeed I am!
Derin6 years ago
turkish numbers are 112 for ambulance 155 for police 110 for fire And 156 for gendame,which is half-police half-soldier.
frollard (author)  Derin6 years ago
Thanks again!
Derin frollard6 years ago
your welcome,although nobody probably cares:)
frollard (author)  Derin6 years ago
Information is power. Never forget that ;)
so im all powerful?? bwahahahahahaha
frollard (author)  tech-king6 years ago
only if you're all-information(ul) :D
ve2vfd Derin6 years ago
Never say "nobody cares" :) One day someone here may go to your wonderfull country and they will remember this if they need it.
Derin ve2vfd6 years ago
tech-king6 years ago
id like to make an important addition to your instructable if you dont mind: your neigbours loud party or his cars using all available parking in the street or dumping snow on your yard or pruning a tree you like are not 911 emergencys. if you do call a non emergency number about these issues, the police take a while to show up, if at all. police have better things to do than mediate your neigbour war.
frollard (author)  tech-king6 years ago
Indeed; I kept a truncated list of 'non-emergency' calls...they are countless. If there is enough time for you to look up the correct number for it, its not an emergency ;)
I think this is an 'ible we have needed for awhile. Good Job ! I know from experience that when someone is injured it is VERY hard to stay calm. But it is the MOST important thing to do.
frollard (author)  littlechef376 years ago
I don't think it caught on for being too word-heavy, but I think its very important info. :)
Musicman416 years ago
Would a drunk driver be something you call 911 for? They are a danger to anyone in the way.
frollard (author)  Musicman416 years ago
Some would say yes, some would say no. If in doubt, call, they will tell you what is right, and you shouldn't get in trouble. I said above - a police emergency is any CRIME IN PROGRESS. Drinking and driving definitely falls in this category - especially if they have a chance to catch the person drunk-handed. If it is past tense, as in you know it occurred, but its not happening any more, 911 'emergency' is the wrong call. Research the local police complaint line and they can take a statement. Sadly the law in most places gives drunk drivers the benefit of the doubt, and if its not caught in the act, its a useless charge. :( Personally I abhor drunk drivers and the damage they do. They should be hung by their neither-regions and had empty bottles thrown at them in public.
silliou6 years ago
000 in Australia. I heard our government is talking about making it so TV shows and movies must have an Australian version where the person says triple 0 as there are hundreds of mis-dials every year. When you are freaking out I guess dialling the phone number you always hear is an easy mistake to make.
hcold silliou6 years ago
111 here in New Zealand. I noticed, when being a bad child once that 911 calls in New Zealand are rerouted to 111.
munchman6 years ago
Very useful instructable. you might want to add that the emergency number for Australia is 000
frollard (author)  munchman6 years ago
Bartboy6 years ago
"operator, whats the number for 911!?!" Funnies quote ever. Homer Simpson
frollard (author)  Bartboy6 years ago
I've had calls where I wanted to tell them

"no sorry, you've got the wrong number, this is 9..1.......2. "
emuman4evr6 years ago
I hate phones with speed dial 911s. Once I dropped a phone and there was a weird buzzing noise. Then the police department called asking if we called them. Then the coppers came 2 hours later.
ve2vfd6 years ago
As one of the people in the big red trucks who will respond to your fire/rescue/medical emergency there is one more thing we'd like you to do...

*After* you are finished with the 911 dispatcher, please PLEASE turn on your outside lights so we can see your address from the street when we drive up with the truck. Unlocking your front door, turning on the inside lights and clearing a path to where a patient is located will also help us help you.
frollard (author)  ve2vfd6 years ago
I agree wholeheartedly - that IS a set of instructions we give - and in my disclaimer, for liability, that may not represent 'best practices' in xyz location, so I omitted any instructions. In retrospect, there is no harm that can come of the scene prep pdis...will add. Thanks.
Brennn106 years ago
Nice instructable. I am certified in BLS and first aid, so I know how important it is to be calm and collective when speaking to authorities. It will expedite all aspects of the emergency.
rimar20006 years ago
Thanks, this is VERY USEFUL. I live in Argentine, but these norms apply to everyone in the world.
Luna~6 years ago
I think a lot of people really need an instructable like this.