How to Use 911


This page will familiarize you with the 911 process and answer any questions you might have about 911 service in Allegany County. The service of providing 911 began here in 1979. Up until that time, residents were required to call a seven-digit phone number for emergency service. The first 911 system was very basic. It provided only a means of simplifying the dialing process. One number to call in an emergency would put the emergency services of Allegany County into action.

This early 911 did not provide a means for giving the dispatcher a telephone number or address with the 911 phone call. This would come in 1992. Allegany County began to provide a version of enhanced 911. With this new version, the dispatcher receives the telephone number that the caller is calling from along with the last listed telephone company address for the phone number. It needs to be understood that the dispatcher is still going to verify your phone number and the address where the incident is occurring. This new system aids in providing more rapid services to those individuals who, by the nature of their complaint are unable to communicate verbally with the dispatcher. The center also provides TTY service for the hearing impaired caller via 911.

Below is a compiled list of do's and don'ts, addressing frequently asked questions. If you have any additional questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.

911 Do's & Don'ts

  • Dial 911 only in an emergency. If it is not an emergency, dial the the specific agency you need via the seven-digit number listed in the phone directory.
  • If you accidentally dial 911, please stay on the line and let the dispatcher know that it was an accidental call. The 911 dispatcher is required to follow up on all 911 calls and verify the existence of an emergency. If we are unable to communicate with someone at the residence, we will dispatch police to check on the status.
  • If you are calling for police assistance, please remain on the line while the dispatcher transfers your call to the appropriate police agency. The transfer time is minimal but callers sometimes think they have been disconnected.
  • Let the call-taker ask you questions. They have been trained to ask specific questions that will help prioritize the incident and send the appropriate agencies to assist.
  • The dispatcher will ask you four important questions.
    • What is the location of the emergency?
    • What is the nature of the emergency?
    • What is your name?
    • What is the telephone number you are calling from?
  • The dispatcher may ask you additional questions such as specific questions relating to the medical problem a patient is having. These questions are asked in order to provide the ambulance crew, and in other cases the appropriate responding personnel, a clear concise picture as to what is occurring on the scene. This does not delay the notification of the responding agency, i.e. ambulance. The alert of necessary personnel is being conducted while you are on the phone.
  • If you are calling by cellular phone, please be prepared to describe in detail your location. To this point in time, cellular calls do not give us an automatic location identifier like a normal 911. Look for distinguishing land marks, businesses, last exit number, or mile marker. Be able to identify the direction that you are traveling in. Know the last town or city that you may have passed through.
  • Listen to the dispatcher's instructions for assistance. The dispatcher may assist you in performing CPR, or direct you to leave the building, or take other action to protect yourself.
  • Don't hang-up until the dispatcher has completed his call taking process.
  • Try to remain calm. Talk slowly, and in a clear and concise voice. The dispatcher may ask you to repeat yourself, or repeat back what you just said. Don't become annoyed. This is done to verify with you that the dispatcher has the correct information.
  • The dispatcher may elect to keep you on the phone until help arrives. Remember, that help has been notified. Keep the dispatcher advised of any changes with the current incident.