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What is 9-1-1? 9-1-1 is the number most people in the US and some international countries call to get help in a police, fire or medical emergency. In some places, you may be able to be connected with Poison Control by calling 9-1-1, but you should check with local officials in your area to make sure. A 9-1-1 call goes over dedicated networks to the appropriate 9-1-1 answering point (PSAP) for the caller's location, and trained personnel then send the emergency help needed.

What is Enhanced 9-1-1? Enhanced 9-1-1, or E9-1-1, is a system that routes an emergency call to the appropriate 9-1-1 answering point (PSAP) for the caller's location, and automatically displays the caller's phone number and address. The 9-1-1 call taker will typically ask the caller to verify the information, which appears on his or her computer screen. In most areas, phone number and location information is available for 9-1-1 calls made from a cellular/wireless phone.

When should you use 9-1-1? 9-1-1 is only to be used in emergencies. An emergency is any situation that requires immediate assistance from the police/sheriff, the fire department or an ambulance. If you are ever in doubt about whether a situation is an emergency, call 9-1-1. It's better to be safe and let the 9-1-1 call taker determine if you need emergency assistance.

Do not call 9-1-1:
• For information
• For directory assistance
• When you're bored and just want to talk
• For paying traffic tickets
• For your pet
• As a prank
If you call 9-1-1 by mistake, do not hang up. Tell the call taker what happened so he/she knows there really isn't an emergency.

What about 9-1-1 prank calls? It's a prank call when someone calls 9-1-1 for a joke or calls 9-1-1 and hangs up. Prank calls not only waste time and money, but can also be dangerous. If 9-1-1 lines or call takers are busy with prank calls, someone with a real emergency may not be able to get the help they need. In most places, it is against the law to make prank 9-1-1 calls.

What if a 9-1-1 caller doesn't speak English? When necessary, a 9-1-1 call taker can add an interpreter from an outside service to the line. A non-English speaking caller may hear a short conversation in English and some clicking sounds as the interpreter is added to the line.

What if a 9-1-1 caller is deaf or hearing/speech impaired? Communications centers that answer 9-1-1 calls have special text telephones for responding to 9-1-1 calls from deaf or hearing/speech impaired callers.

If a caller uses a TTY, the caller should:
• Stay calm, place the phone receiver in the TTY, dial 9-1-1.
• 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 call taker time to connect his/her TTY. If necessary, press the TTY keys again. The 9-1-1 call taker should answer and type "GA" for Go Ahead.
• Tell what is needed -- police, fire department, or ambulance. Give your name, phone number and the address where help is needed.
• Stay on the telephone if it is safe. Answer the call taker's questions.

If a deaf or hearing/speech impaired caller does not have a TTY, he/she should call 9-1-1 and not hang up. This leaves the line open. With most 9-1-1 calls, the caller's address will then be displayed on the call taker's screen and help will be sent.

How can I request a 911 Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) event report, audio recording, or list of events for a location?  As of July 1, 2019, please use the City’s PIRT System to request Guilford Metro 911 records.  Please include the following information.  This will help us respond quickly and accurately. 

  • For a CAD Event Report or audio recording for a specific incident, provide, if known, the Event ID number or report number.  Otherwise, give the date and approximate time of the incident AND street address, business name with approximate location, or nearest cross streets with nature of incident (traffic accident, suspicious activity, etc.).
  • For a List of Events (911 call history) for a specific location or area, include the date range (beginning and ending dates) AND street address, nearest cross streets, street names without block numbers, or business name with approximate location.

Please be aware that we cannot search on personal names or telephone numbers; 911 audio recordings are purged after 60 days; and, pursuant to NCGS 132-1.4(c)(4), we must protect information that reveals “the natural voice, name, address, telephone number, or other information that may identify the caller, victim, or witness.”

When did the 9-1-1 consolidation occur and what does it mean for the residents of Greensboro and Guilford County? After a four-year effort, Guilford Metro 9-1-1 consolidated the former Greensboro and Guilford County 9-1-1 centers. The consolidated center began operation on March 20, 2007.

Residents now make one call to receive assistance from Greensboro Police, Greensboro Fire, Guilford County Sheriff, Guilford County EMS and Guilford County Fire. The consolidation also eliminates about 65,000 transfers between centers. These saved seconds mean saved lives. It provides our area, for the first time, a 9-1-1 backup facility for disaster preparedness, as well as an overflow site for events that exceed the capabilities of the primary site. Guilford Metro handles more than 425,000 dispatches and nearly 700,000 telephone transactions every year.

I am considering changing my home (business) phone service to one of the new Internet (cable) providers. Does 9-1-1 still work and can 9-1-1 locate me? For the most part, yes! All cable providers that provide digital phone service in the Greensboro and Guilford County areas have Enhanced 9-1-1 data. However, if you are an internet/VOIP customer, we advise that you check with your service provider.

I read some cities were working on ways to send text messages to 9-1-1. Can I send a text message or pictures / video I capture on my cell phone to 9-1-1? While this is something planned for future 9-1-1 systems, the reality is that 9-1-1 centers nationally cannot receive pictures or videos over the current 9-1-1 line infrastructure. However, Guilford Metro is involved in a beta trial for Next Generation 9-1-1 systems, which would allow this to happen. Read these FAQs about texting to 9-1-1.

I just moved here from out of state. Can 9-1-1 still find me since my cell phone number is from another state? Yes, if you have a newer cell phone equipped with 9-1-1 location technology. If you are not sure please check with your cell provider.

I am considering getting rid of my home phone and only keeping a cell phone. Should I do this? What happens if I dial 9-1-1 from my cell phone inside my house? One of our many roles is to keep abreast of the changing and challenging technology trends in the telecommunications industry. Guilford Metro 9-1-1 cannot officially support a specific technology (wireline, wireless, V/OIP, etc.). Many people are only using cell phones today, and depending on your needs, you may or may not want to consider this option. One thing to keep in mind is the quality of the cell phone coverage in your home. Does your cell phone work in every room?

Also do you have enough cell phones so that if you’re not home and there is a family emergency, there is a phone to call 9-1-1? Guilford Metro 9-1-1 is equipped to locate newer cell phones but older analog phones are difficult to track. Cell phone location accuracy is improving every year; however, the location may be within a 50 to 100 meter radius. Therefore, if you are in an apartment building or a multi-story building, 9-1-1 may not get the exact location.

Why does 9-1-1 staff ask so many questions? Don’t they already know where I am when I dial 9-1-1? Verification of information is critical to ensure that the right resources are sent in the right manner to the correct location of an emergency. We understand that asking specific, often scripted questions may take longer, but very often emergency units have already been dispatched.

The Emergency Communication Specialist may continue questioning the caller to obtain additional details about the victim, patient or suspect. This additional information may change the response, provide a situational assessment, or provide a scene safety update for the public safety responders. Depending on the call type, pre-arrival instructions may also be given to help the caller help themselves or others before emergency responders get to the scene.

My church (community group) is collecting old cell phones to give to domestic violence victims in case they have to dial 9-1-1. Is this OK to do? Can you find them if they dial 9-1-1 even when the phone no longer has service? This is a very difficult question to answer. While donating cell phones is admirable and GM 9-1-1 cannot take an official stance, please keep in mind that while such phones can dial 9-1-1, it will be impossible to call the caller back (should they get disconnected from 9-1-1) and more than likely 9-1-1 will be unable to find the caller if he/she can not speak. As of 2008, cellular telephone companies are not required to provide analog service. Therefore, older cell phones given to victims may no longer work. The FCC has issued several notices about this issue, which is called a “non-initiated phone.”

Why does it take so long for an officer to arrive once I call 911 for help? Public safety responders are typically dispatched without delay. The severity and circumstances of the situation often dictates the response. For example, Greensboro Police (as with most large agencies) uses a triage system to differentiate less critical, non-emergency or cold calls from emergency, in progress, or critical life safety related calls. This may mean the caller receives a response from a Patrol Officer, or CSI, or Telephone Response Unit personnel.

Typically the Telephone Response Unit is used when it is a cold call or only a report is needed for insurance purposes. We have specific protocols for the individual agencies that we serve. Our role is to take calls based on the information given by the caller and process by using the specific agency protocol. If you want more information about this topic, please contact the center or any of the agencies we serve for additional details.

How do you become an Emergency Communications Specialist? How long is your training?Working in a 9-1-1 center is a stressful yet rewarding career choice. We have a year-round application process via the City of Greensboro. On average, it takes 14-16 months to complete training.

Can my group (club) tour the 9-1-1 center? Yes! We welcome you to visit or tour the 9-1-1 center. However, certain areas are off limits due to security precautions. In addition, with enough advance notice, we can typically attend community meetings or public relations events if requested.

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