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Sometimes it is unclear if you should contact 9-1-1 or the non-emergency telephone number.  Here are some of the most frequently asked questions which will assist you in determining when you should call 9-1-1.


When should I call 9-1-1?
You should call 9-1-1 when:

  • You are a witness or victim of a crime in progress or one that has just occurred.
  • If you witness or are involved in an injury auto accident.
  • If you experience or see someone having a medical emergency.
  • If you see fire or smoke.
  • Whenever you witness or are involved in a potentially dangerous situation.

If you're ever in doubt that something happening is an actual emergency and you're not sure if you should call 9-1-1, don't hesitate to call 9-1-1.  We can help you determine if a response is needed.

When should I call the non-emergency number?
Do not call 9-1-1 if a person or property is not in immediate danger.  You may call the non-emergency number if you need to report something that occurred earlier that day, days before, or even weeks before.  You can also call the non-emergency number if you need a report for insurance purposes.  The Ingham County 9-1-1 non-emergency phone number is 517-272-6026. 

What is "enhanced" or E911?
Enhanced or E911 means that our Center has a link to the phone company that provides both the address and the phone number for the calling party, if you are calling from a landline phone.

If you have my address and phone number why do you ask me for it?
Technology is wonderful, but it is not infallible.  It can make mistakes, so we ask questions to make sure we have the correct address information.  Also, sometimes people call for help from a neighbor's house and we do not want to send help to the wrong address.

Why do you ask so many questions when I call 9-1-1?
It may seem like we are wasting time, but we follow a proven set of important questions designed to provide emergency responders with the information they need to prepare to respond to your call.  The more information we have the more quickly and efficiently we can help you.  In an emergency we will start emergency responders on their way while we continue asking you questions.

Why do I have to stay on the phone?
We keep you on the phone so you can assist us by telling us what is happening or if there has been a change in the situation or the location of the incident.  Sometimes we keep you on the phone so that we can give you instructions on how to help the victim until help arrives.  Staying on the phone with us does not delay the response of police, fire, or EMS units.

What happens when I call 9-1-1 from my cell phone?
If you dial 9-1-1 from your cell phone in Ingham County your call should ring in to our Center.  If you are in any other county, it will go to the closest 9-1-1 Center based on the receiving cell phone tower location.  Cell phones do not provide the same type of information to the dispatchers that landline phones do.  Depending on the technology used by your cell provider and the age of your phone we may have an approximate location for you based on the latitude and longitude provided by the phone, but we may only have the address of the cell tower that received your call.  This is why you must stay on the line and be prepared to give the dispatcher your location.  If you call from the edges of Ingham County and are connected with one of our neighboring Centers, they will transfer you to the correct jurisdiction.

Should I program 9-1-1 into my phone's speed dial?
No.  Putting 9-1-1 in your speed dial can result in needless accidental calls to 9-1-1.

What happens if I call 9-1-1 accidentally?
Please stay on the phone until the dispatcher answers and then explain what happened.  If you hang up without talking to the dispatcher, they will try to call you back to verify that you do not have an emergency.  If you cannot be reached a police officer will be dispatched to your home or business to confirm that everything is fine.

Can I test 9-1-1?
No.  Please do not dial 9-1-1 and tell us that you are testing the system.  If you do this you may be taking valuable time away from someone else who has an actual emergency and needs immediate assistance.

Can I send a text message to 9-1-1?

No.  Ingham County 9-1-1 is not yet able to receive text messages.  This should change in the future.  Watch our website and we will update it once we are able to receive text messages.

Can I still call 9-1-1 if I have a VoIP phone?
If you have Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone service through a provider like Comcast, Vonage, or Magic Jack you may not be able to access 9-1-1 in the traditional way.  VoIP calls may not connect to your local 9-1-1 Center; they may instead route to a central answering point (possibly out of state) not staffed by trained 9-1-1 dispatchers.  The calls may be routed to non-emergency administrative lines that will not display your phone number or location information.  The calls may also be correctly routed to a 9-1-1 line and still not display the phone number and location information.  Your VoIP phone may not work during a power outage or if the internet is down.  If you travel to another city or state, you must call your VoIP provider and update your location information in order for your 9-1-1 calls to be properly routed.

Can I call 9-1-1 using a TTY or TTDD?
Yes.  The Ingham County 9-1-1 system is TTY or TDD compatible for those who are speech or hearing impaired.

Should I call 9-1-1 to report my power is out?
No.  In Ingham County, please contact your power company directly.  Click here for Consumers Energy and here for Lansing Board of Water and Light.

The police or fire department was just at my neighbor's house, can I call 9-1-1 to find out what happened?
No.  This will tie up a 9-1-1 operator and possibly delay a response to someone else's emergency.  9-1-1 staff are not allowed to provide you with this information.

What should I tell my child about calling 9-1-1?
Teach your children how to call 9-1-1.  Make sure they know their address, phone number, name, and the names of their parents.  Teach them to stay on the phone and answer all of the dispatcher's questions until they are told by the dispatcher to hang up.  Visit http://911forkids.com/ for helpful information on teaching your child about 9-1-1.

Tornado sirens are going off, can I call 9-1-1 to get an update on the tornado?
No.  Do not call 9-1-1 if you hear tornado sirens.  If the sirens are going off it means a tornado or a severe thunderstorm with 70 mph or greater winds has been sighted.  Take cover and turn on your TV or radio to stay informed.