In most cases, when you call 9-1-1 from a landline phone, such as a house, business or pay phone, the call is automatically routed to the appropriate 9-1-1dispatch center. When calling from a landline phone, the telephone number and address are transmitted to the 9-1-1 center and displayed to the dispatcher.
When you call 9-1-1 from a wireless device, such as a cell phone, it is slightly different. Cell phones transmit the signal to the nearest cellular tower, and it then travels to the 9-1-1 center associated with that tower. In some cases, the receiving 9-1-1 center is not the correct agency that you need to respond to your incident, which is why you may have to be transferred to another 9-1-1 center.
When calling 9-1-1 from a cell phone, the phone number is transmitted to the 9-1-1 center and displayed to the dispatcher. Charleston County has 9-1-1 Phase 2 technology that triangulates the cell phone 's signal and gives an approximate location of where the call originated.
When calling 9-1-1, whether from a landline or wireless device, the dispatcher is going to ask you your location. Location is key in receiving the help you need. The system is not perfect, and there can be discrepancies. This is why the dispatcher must confirm your location.
If you are hearing or speech impaired, Charleston County is equipped with a Text Telephone (TDD/TTY) device that all dispatchers are trained to use.
For those who do not speak English, Charleston County utilizes an interpreter service. The service has interpreters for over 175 languages.
Call if you Can: Making a voice call to 911 is the fastest way to transfer information between caller and call taker, resulting in faster communication to responders.
Text if you Can’t: Sending a text to 911 is a good way to report an emergency if a voice call cannot be made. Examples: Reporting party is deaf or mute, the emergency is imminently dangerous and the caller needs to remain quiet or not let those around them know that they are calling 911, cell phone has very low service or battery. Use plain language/no slang (translation available) and do not send photos, emojis, videos or .gifs as those are not currently accepted by our software.
Connect if you Must: A reporting party should use 911helpme.com if they are unable to call or text. Use any internet-connected device to report an emergency via this website. A photo can be included in a report using this option
While the dispatcher asks you questions, he or she is entering the information into a computer-aided dispatch system (CAD). Other dispatchers can see the information as it is being taken and can send the necessary responders while you are still talking to the dispatcher. Talking to the dispatcher does not delay response. The dispatcher is gathering information that is necessary for the responding units.
Call 9-1-1 to report life threatening emergencies, crimes in progress and other emergency situations that require immediate response.
Some examples of when to call 9-1-1:
If you are ever in doubt of whether a situation is an emergency, call 9-1-1 and let the 9-1-1 dispatcher determine if it is an emergency. It is better to be safe than sorry. If the dispatcher determines that your situation is not an emergency, he or she may ask you to call back on a non-emergency, seven-digit administrative line. There are a limited number of 9-1-1 lines, which is why it is very important to make sure that only emergency calls are being taken on 9-1-1.
If you call 9-1-1 by mistake, do not hang up. Even if you dial 9-1-1 and hang the phone up immediately before even hearing the ring, the call still comes in to the 9-1-1 center. Most Charleston County agencies have a 9-1-1 hang up response plan. If the 9-1-1 center receives a hang up call, a police officer is dispatched to the location to ensure everything is okay. If you stay on the line and tell the dispatcher that it was a mistake and everything is okay, a police officer may not have to respond. The 9-1-1 dispatcher will determine if a response is needed.
Assume the 9-1-1 dispatcher does not know your location. Some cell phones are able to triangulate the signal and give an approximate location, but you will need to provide the dispatcher with additional location information. Be prepared to give precise directions to your location.
Look for landmarks, large buildings, street signs or paperwork nearby that may contain address information. Think back to the main street or highway you were near when your emergency occurred. If others are around, ask them where you are.
The dispatcher is the vital link between the public and emergency response personnel. The dispatcher must get information to pass on to the responders to help them more accurately prepare for the situation to which they are responding. In addition, dispatchers are trained to give pre-arrival instructions in some instances, which can help the victim until responders arrive.
Once the basic information and reason for the 9-1-1 call is obtained, the dispatcher stays on the line with the caller and obtains further information. Another dispatcher simultaneously dispatches the appropriate emergency personnel. In some cases, the 9-1-1 dispatcher will urge the caller to stay on the line until help arrives on scene.
You can reach emergency assistance by dialing 9-1-1 on most VoIP phones. However, there are important differences between some VoIP 9-1-1 services and traditional 9-1-1 service from a standard phone. Sometimes the 9-1-1 dispatcher may not have a display of the number your calling from or your location. In addition, your call may arrive at a remote private call center if there is confusion over your location.
They might. Just as a cordless phone may not work without power, your VoIP phone may not work without power either. As a result, you may be unable to make any calls, including those to 9-1-1, during an electrical outage. Similarly, if your cable or broadband service is interrupted, it may keep you from being able to make outbound calls.
Yes. 9-1-1 leaders recommend you have an active land-line phone service in addition to your VoIP phone in order to ensure you can access 9-1-1 services, especially during power or service outages.
Unfortunately, yes. 9-1-1 centers across the country receive prank calls everyday. There are only a certain number of 9-1-1 lines designated to each particular center. If a dispatcher is tied up on a prank 9-1-1 call, it can delay a real emergency from being answered and handled.
Section 23-47-80 in State of South Carolina code of laws states:
"It is unlawful for a person anonymously or otherwise to:
(1) use any words or language of a profane, vulgar, lewd, lascivious, or indecent nature on an emergency 911 number with the intent to intimidate or harass a dispatcher;
(2) telephone the emergency 911 number, whether or not conversation ensues for the purpose of annoying or harassing the dispatcher or interfering with or disrupting emergency 911 service;
(3) make a telephone call to a 911 dispatcher and intentionally fail to hang up or disengage the connection for the purpose of interfering with or disrupting emergency service;
(4) telephone the emergency 911 number and intentionally make a false report.
A person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned not more than six months or fined not more than two hundred dollars, or both.
For information on current position openings, visit Charleston County Government's Employment Opportunities page.
Yes. If you are interested in having a guest speaker at your function, contact Kaitlin Jordan by e-mail or phone at (843) 529-3745. 9-1-1 training and education demonstrations are available.
Disclaimer: Reasonable efforts are taken to ensure the accuracy of the non-emergency and administrative numbers listed below. However, numbers can change without notice to Charleston County. Please consider contacting the municipalities below first to ensure the information is correct.
City of Charleston
City of Folly Beach
City of North Charleston
City of Isle of Palms
Town of Awendaw
Town of Hollywood
Town of James Island
Town of Kiawah Island
Town of Lincolnville
Town of McClellanville
Town of Meggett
Town of Mount Pleasant
Town of Ravenel
Town of Rockville
Town of Seabrook Island
Town of Sullivan's Island
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