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Calling 9-1-1

Skagit Regional Health Airlift Partnership

The National 9-1-1 program provides the following tips for calling for emergency help:

In an emergency, dial or text 9-1-1 immediately.

  • Call if you can, text if you can't.

An emergency is any situation that requires immediate assistance from the police, fire department or ambulance. Examples include:

  • A fire
  • A crime, especially if in progress
  • A car crash, especially if someone is injured
  • A medical emergency, especially symptoms that require immediate medical attention

If you're not sure whether the situation is a true emergency, officials recommend calling 9-1-1 and letting the call-taker determine whether you need emergency help.

When you call 9-1-1, be prepared to answer the call-taker's questions, which may include:

  • The location of the emergency, including the street address
  • The phone number you are calling from
  • The nature of the emergency
  • Details about the emergency, such as a physical description of a person who may have committed a crime, a description of any fire that may be burning, or a description of injuries or symptoms being experienced by a person having a medical emergency.

Remember, the call-taker’s questions are important to get the right kind of help to you quickly.

Be prepared to follow any instructions the call-taker gives you. Many 9-1-1 centers can tell you exactly what to do until help arrives, such as providing step-by-step instructions to aid someone who is choking or needs first aid or CPR. Do not hang up until the call-taker instructs you to. 

If you dial 9-1-1 by mistake, or if a child in your home dials 9-1-1 when no emergency exists, do not hang up—that could make 9-1-1 officials think that an emergency exists and possibly send responders to your location. Instead, simply explain to the call-taker what happened.

To learn more about Text-to-9-1-1 service in Washington State, click here.