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City of Rochester

How 911 Works - What Happens When You Dial 911

911 Collar BrassMost of us take this important task for granted; a guarantee that someone else will be there on the other end of the phone, ready to help at a moment's notice. As simple as it may seem, the system of 911 is both very clever and very sophisticated. Lets take a look at what happens when you call.

Most phones have the capability to dial into 911.

When you dial into 911:

  • The signal goes to the phone company's database.
  • There, it finds out the information that you supply the phone company when you start your service. 
  • Then your signal, along with the information is sent to us in the form of Automatic Name and Location information (ANI/ALI). 

Our 911 Center is now Phase II compatible with most cellular telephone companies.  After ten seconds we can send a signal to your phone to request your GPS coordinates. With most cellular carriers we can determine your location to within about 50 feet.

When you dial 911 please stay on the line, do not hang up! Calls into 911 are taken in the order in which they are received. If you hang up and call back, your call goes to the last in queue, making your wait longer.

The Telecommunicator answering your 911 call determines the type of service needed using a proven and efficient interview process. They provide initial help if necessary and then immediately contact the appropriate emergency agency to dispatch assistance.

 The Telecommunicator is the first link in the medical Survival Chain, providing Pre-Arrival and Post-Dispatch instructions to callers with a medical emergency. Critical procedures such as CPR, airway management and childbirth, just to name a few, can be started before more advanced help arrives.

The Telecommunicator uses a Computer Aided Dispatch terminal. Together with a touch screen telephone interface, information about the caller's location and phone number is available for verification by the Telecommunicator.

A Telecommunicator is a public safety employee who asks questions to determine the who, what, where, how and why (as well as the what should/can/might be done) in a multitude of circumstances, in which the caller often mistakenly assumes that the answers are obvious.

The Telecommunicator knows that action taken based on incomplete or inaccurate information can endanger callers, victims and the responders.

That is why he or she must make sure answers to questions are clear, complete and precise. If an answer is "far," for example, the Telecommunicator must ask: "how far?" If an altercation is at the "door," the Telecommunicator must ask: "Which door?" and "How many doors are there?" You can help by being as precise and exact as possible when providing information during a 911 call.

Once the Telecommunicator has analyzed the situation, the call is immediately routed by computer to a dispatcher for the appropriate emergency response (Police, Fire or EMS) to provide the service(s) needed.

The 9-1-1 Center will make every effort to investigate all complaints relative to our personnel or services offered by our department. For quality of service inquiries, either call 9-1-1 and ask for a Supervisor, or call (585) 528-2200 Monday through Friday between 9 am and 5 pm and ask for the Operations Manager on duty.


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