911 Frequently Asked QuestionsHow Does 9-1-1 Work?
How Does My Call Get to 9-1-1?
When you call from a phone installed at a residence, business or a pay phone, the phone number of the phone determines which 9-1-1 center you reach. Each 9-1-1 center or Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) has an enormous list of phone numbers that are designated to come to that center. All of these numbers have a special secondary number on file with the phone company that directs your call to the correct 9-1-1 center for your area.
If you call from a cell phone the procedure is slightly different. Cell phones transmit to the nearest cellular tower and from there to the closest 9-1-1 center. The 9-1-1 center is determined by the location of the cell tower. Sometimes if you are close to a county or state border, you might get the wrong 9-1-1 center. However, the employees there will direct your call to the correct center to get the help you need.
If you are hearing or speech impaired, the Communications Division is equipped with a Text Telephone (TTY) device to allow communication through your TTY device.
If you do not speak English, we will contact the Language Line to provide an interpreter. It helps us if you are able to tell us the name of the language you speak in English, so we can tell the language line which interpreter to choose.
Once you reach 9-1-1, the dispatcher will ask some questions. If you do not have an emergency, the dispatcher will refer you to a non-emergency number. Some of these calls go elsewhere through the non-emergency phone tree, but most are answered by the 9-1-1 dispatchers. The reason for getting you off the 9-1-1 line is twofold. One, we are trying to send help to the emergencies first, and two, we only have so many 9-1-1 telephone trunks. We want to keep those lines open for emergency calls. If you do have an emergency, the dispatcher will ask you questions to determine who to send. Some of these questions will be:
- Where are you? There are ambulances, fire trucks and police officers all over Fauquier County. We want to send the ones who are closest and can provide the quickest help. We really need an exact address, but sometimes you won’t know that. We will ask for cross streets, what kind of building it is, what color is it and other questions to help us find you as quickly as possible.
- What is going on now? We will ask specific questions related to the situation. Sometimes responders may need special equipment, and not all vehicles carry the same kind of stuff. We want to send you the right help.
We take over a 200,000 calls a year here at the Fauquier County 9-1-1 Center. The dispatchers keep track of all the responding units and all of the calls waiting for service. Sometimes it is necessary to change the assignment of a unit so they can respond to a different call that is more of an emergency. On our busiest days, some non-emergency calls can wait for a significant amount of time. Please do not hang up, we have not forgotten you, and we are working as fast as we can.
When to Call 9-1-1
When should I use 9-1-1?
Use 9-1-1 to stop a crime in progress, report a fire, or call for an ambulance. 9-1-1 is the right number to call in an emergency when a prompt response is needed. There could be a fight or an assault occurring right now, a fire burning, or a medical problem occurring now which could be life threatening.
The person who answers your 9-1-1 call is a trained dispatcher. They will ask you questions to determine what kind of help you need – Fire, Police, or Medical. Be prepared to state the nature of the emergency, and please answer all the questions. Answering questions does not delay response. As they ask their questions, keep your answers as short and direct as possible.
Questions could include:
- What happened?
- What is the location?
- Where are you calling from?
- What is your name?
- What is your phone number?
What if I call 9-1-1 by mistake?
Please stay on the line if you call 9-1-1 by accident, and tell the dispatcher that everything is OK. If you do not stay on the line we may have to send a police officer to your home to make sure there is not a problem.
When should I use the non-emergency number?
540-347-6843 is a ten digit non-emergency number which you can dial 24 hours a day in Fauquier County for non-emergency help. Using the non-emergency number keeps 9-1-1 available for true emergencies.
Some examples of times when you should call 540-347-6843 are:
- Your house or car was broken into yesterday.
- Your runaway child has returned home.
- You need to add additional items to the burglary report you made last week.
- Your car was stolen sometime overnight.
- Someone stole your bike while you were at school.
Date Last Modified: 04/09/2008