How to Use 911 Service Effectively

Call 911 During an Emergency; if You Can't Talk, Text

If you need Police, Fire, or EMS, call 911 immediately. If you can't talk, text to 911 (PDF).

Do Not Disconnect a 911 Call

If you call 911, even if by mistake, do not hang up the phone. During an emergency 911 operators are trained to get the most important information as quickly as possible, to get help on the way, and provide critical pre-arrival instructions to keep you safe and help stabilize the situation until responders arrive.

If you happen to call by accident, stay on the line so you can tell the 911 operator that you called by accident and there is no emergency. This saves them from having to call you back and confirm there is no emergency, or sending police to check your address for an emergency.

Stay Calm & Answer All Questions!

Do your best to stay calm and answer all questions. Staying calm can be one of the most challenging, yet most important, things you do when contacting 911. The process is designed for 911 operators to get your best answer to the right questions in the right order. So, no matter how unnecessary a question may seem at the time, your cooperation will be the key in getting the right assistance as fast as possible.

Know How to Report the Location of the Emergency

Berrien County is made up of many communities, with similar street names and public places. 911 call-takers will always ask you for the location of the emergency; be prepared to answer this question. Review our How Can We Find You? (PDF) handout to sharpen your ability to identify your surroundings and speak the language of the public-safety responder! Be aware that the 911 center that answers the call may not be the 911 center that normally services the area of the emergency, especially when calling from a wireless phone.

Post Your Address Clearly & Prominently on Your Home

Posting your address at the driveway entrance (from both directions) and on your structure will help emergency responders find the location quicker and alleviate any confusion as to whether they have the correct location. Try using something reflective or illuminated so that it can be seen in the evening as well as during the day.

Know Your Phones

As much as telecommunication advancements can enhance the quality of our lives, be mindful that it will not always work as expected when summoning help during an emergency. Be educated on how such devices, systems and services are used in your personal life and in your work environment.

For Home

See the Technologies Information (PDF) handout to learn how different technology offerings work with 911 services. You may further enhance public-safety response to you by providing specific information you want 911 operators to know; learn how to register a personal/household profile with Smart911.

While at Work & Public Facilities

The Berrien County 911 Data Center is committed to helping public and private business entities in achieving compliance with Michigan's new landline MLTS (Multi-Line Telephone System) standards; and, offers a solution on how to deliver additional information with wireless 911 calls from your location, providing consistent facility-specific information regarding caller-location, directions, responder access, owner emergency contact information, and more.

  • Business Phone Systems-State 911 MLTS Compliance (December 2019): Advancements in business phone system design has paved the way for long awaited improvements in caller location delivery to 911 center systems. Please review this Multi-line Telephone Service (PDF) guideline booklet published by the State 911 Committee. To assure success, please contact our Berrien County 911 Data Center at 269-983-3060, extension 4979, to help you and test delivery of your updated MLTS data over 911 circuits.
  • Wireless 911 Calls from your Facility: Berrien County is also currently subscribed to RAVE Mobile Safety's, RaveFacility, that allows entities to build facility profiles that will open exclusively to the 911 Center when anyone dials 911 from their facilities. It will provide the best available GPS location of the caller and deliver information registered from the facility owner profile.

Teach Children How & When to Call 911

Be sure your children understand what 911 is, how to dial from home and cell phones, how to text if they can't talk freely, and to trust the 911 professional. Make sure your child is physically able to reach at least one phone in your home. When calling 911, your child should be capable of reporting their name, parents' names, telephone number, and most importantly their address. It is a good idea to have this information posted in a known place, i.e. on your fridge or near a house phone, for young children and responders. Tell them to answer all the call takers questions and to stay on the phone until instructed to hang up.

Do Not Misuse 911 Services

Prank calls to 911 and harassment of 911 operators is a waste of valuable time and resources, and it's against the law! Be sure all members of your household are aware that prank or repeated harassing calls to 911 will be dealt with by local law enforcement agencies.