9-1-1 Frequently Asked Questions
What if I call 9-1-1 by accident?
DO NOT HANG UP! Stay on the line and tell the dispatcher that everything is all right. If you don’t the dispatcher may think that something is wrong and send a deputy.
Why do you refer to it as "9-1-1" instead of "911"?
The dashes help make it clear that there are three separate digits to dial. Without the dashes, it might be spoken verbally as "nine-eleven." Children may take this literally and search for a non-existent "eleven" key on a phone. Also, the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center are referenced as "911".
What if I use a TTY Machine?
If you use a Text Telephone (TDD, TTY) machine for the deaf, make sure you know the correct way to dial 9-1-1 on your machine. After dialing 9-1-1, tap several letter keys on the keyboard to alert the dispatcher, and then wait several moments. Repeat this procedure until the dispatcher answers. The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Communications Center has TTY capabilities.
What if I speak limited English?
In California, the 9-1-1 dispatcher is able to connect you with a translator. Depending on the language spoken, it may take a few moments for the translator service to locate a translator. If you speak limited English or none at all, tell the dispatcher that there is an emergency and which language you speak. There may be a short delay while the dispatcher connects the caller with a translator. Do not hang up.
Why is it important to use 9-1-1 correctly?
It is difficult at times to reach the 9-1-1 dispatcher. One reason this happens is because many people call 9-1-1 when there is no emergency. The dispatcher must spend time talking to these people instead of helping others who have real emergencies. That is why it is important to call 9-1-1 only when there is a life threatening emergency.