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FAQs


What is 911?
9-1-1 is the number to call for emergencies (police/medical/fire). A 911 call goes over dedicated phone lines to the 911 Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) for the area the caller is calling from, and trained personnel then send the emergency help needed.

The History of 911
The first-ever 911 call is placed by Alabama Speaker of the House Rankin Fite from Haleyville City Hall to U.S. Rep. Tom Bevill (Dem.) at the city's police station. Bevill reportedly answered the phone with "Hello." Attending with Fite was Haleyville mayor James Whitt. At the police station with Bevill was Gallagher and Alabama Public Service Commission director Eugene "Bull" Connor (formerly the Birmingham police chief involved in federal desegregation of the city's schools). Fitzgerald was at the ATC central office serving Haleyville, and actually observed the call pass through the switching gear, as the mechanical equipment clunked out "9-1-1."

911 and Ottawa County
In Ottawa County, 911 calls are automatically routed and answered by the Ottawa County 911 Communications Center. A communications specialist trained in emergency medical dispatching, and CPR answers the call and dispatches the appropriate police, fire, and ems agency

What is Enhanced 911?
Enhanced 911, or E-911, is a system which routes an emergency call to the 911 center closest to the caller, and automatically displays the caller's phone number and address. The 911 dispatcher will ask the caller to verify the information, which appears on his or her computer screen.

What if a 911 caller is Deaf, or hearing/speech impaired?
The Ottawa County 9-1-1 Communications Center is able to communicate to the hearing/speech impaired by using a TTY/TDD interface.

If a caller uses a TTY/TDD, the caller should:
Stay calm, place the phone receiver in the TTY, dial 911.
After the call is answered, press the TTY keys several times. This may help shorten the time necessary to respond to the call.
Give the dispatcher a moment to respond. If necessary, press the TTY keys again. The dispatcher should answer and type "GA" for Go Ahead.
Tell what is needed; police, fire department, or ambulance. Give your name, address and phone number where help is needed.
Stay on the telephone if it is safe to do so. Answer the dispatcher's questions.
If a Deaf or hearing/speech impaired caller doesn't have a TTY/TDD, the caller should call 911 and don't hang up. Not hanging up leaves the line open. The caller's address is displayed on the dispatcher's screen and help will be sent.

When should you use 911?
911 is only to be used in emergency situations. An emergency is any situation that requires immediate assistance from law enforcement, the fire department or an ambulance. If you are ever in doubt of whether a situation is an emergency you should call 911. It's better to be safe and let the 911 dispatcher determine if you need emergency assistance.

Do not call 911 for the following:
for information for directory assistance
when you're bored and just want to talk to report a crime that occurred yesterday
for your pet as a prank
If you call 911 by mistake, do not hang up. Tell the dispatcher what happened so they know there really isn't an emergency. If the dispatcher is unable to verify that no emergency exists, a police officer will be sent to the location.

What about 911 prank calls?
It's a prank call when someone calls 911 for a joke, or calls 911 and hangs up when no emergency exists. Prank calls not only waste time and money, but can also be dangerous. If 911 lines or dispatchers are busy with prank calls, someone with a real emergency may not be able to get the help they need.

In Michigan, it is a misdemeanor crime to make prank 911 calls.

How do you make a 911 call?
In an emergency, dial 911 on your phone. It's a free call. You can use any kind of phone: push button, rotary, cellular/wireless, cordless, or pay phone. (With many cellular/wireless phones, Enhanced 911 does not yet work.)
Stay calm and state your emergency
Speak loudly and clearly. Give the 911 dispatcher your name, phone number and the address where help is needed.
Answer the dispatcher's questions. Stay on the telephone as long as it's safe to do so, and don't hang up until the dispatcher tells you to.

What if a 911 caller doesn't speak English?
When necessary, a Ottawa 911 dispatcher can add an interpreter to the call in a matter of seconds using Language Line. Language Line provides translation for more than 140 languages.
A non-English speaking caller may hear a short conversation in English and some clicking sounds as the interpreter is added to the line.

Who pays for 911?
Each household or business pays a small monthly fee for 911 service on each telephone line that appears on their phone bill. In addition, Ottawa County has a 9-1-1 milage for operations. There is also a wireless surcharge collected on cellular phones and returned to the 9-1-1 PSAP.