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Enhanced 9-1-1 Frequently Asked Questions


What Is Enhanced 911?

Verizon's Enhanced 911 is a computer-aided emergency communication system. When a caller dials "911" from a telephone, the call is automatically routed to the appropriate answering center. At the same time, important information about the caller is transmitted to the center and displayed on a call taker's screen. When dialing from a landline telephone, this information includes the caller's name, address and telephone number, the names of the local providers of medical services and the local police and fire departments. This on-screen display makes Enhanced 911 an effective means of summoning help even when the caller is unfamiliar with their location, is unable to speak, or the emergency call is disconnected before they can explain the emergency to police.

How Do I Make A Call To The Enhanced 911 System?

You simply dial 911. The type of emergency system you are dialing into does not require that you use a letter to identify the type of system serving you.

Do I Have To Answer Many Questions If I Call?

You don't have to answer many questions but if you are able to speak, the call taker will want to verify information listed on their screen or obtain location information if you are calling from a cell or voice over internet phone. The call taker will also want to know the nature of the emergency. Answering appropriate questions can aid in the proper response to your emergency.

When Should I Make A Call To Enhanced 911?

In the event of an emergency that requires police, fire or medical assistance. Calls for information or assistance in routine matters should not be made to 911.

If I Dial "0" Can An Operator Connect Me To The Correct Answering Point?

No. You must dial 911 to be routed to the correct answering point in the system. The operator will connect you to a seven-digit number of the agency that serves you.

What Will Happen If A Telephone Cable Handling 911 Calls To An Answering Center Is Accidentally Damaged?

Calls can't be completed over cut or damaged cables. That's why Verizon designed the system to include more than one Enhanced 911 cable in most areas, and placed those cables along separate routes or in separate sheaths wherever possible.

Can 911 Calls Be Made From Cellular Or Mobile Telephones?

All emergency 911 calls made from cellular or mobile telephones are answered at a central answering point in Erie County located at the Erie County Public Safety Campus in downtown Buffalo.

The information received on the call taker's screen displays the location of the cellular phone company tower that transmitted your call and not your actual location. Some cell phones are Phase Two compliant which allows longitude and latitude to be transmitted to the call taker's screen. This allows them to get an approximate location of your phone. Not all cell phones are Phase Two. The call taker will need to obtain and verify the location on all cell calls.

Where Does The Information Displayed On A Call Taker's Screen Originate?

Erie County and Verizon have worked to compile an accurate address and telephone number for each of the landline telephones in the county. The information is stored in a computer in Syracuse. The information travels over high-speed circuits and appears on the dispatcher's screen within approximately three seconds after the call is answered. There is a back-up computer on stand-by.

Does The Telephone Company Record Changes If A Resident Moves?

When an order for telephone service is completed, Verizon's database will be updated. The company performs daily record changes. Telephone customers using other companies including Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) should contact their provider to insure the records are updated.

What Will Happen If Many Calls Are Made To The Enhanced 911 System At The Same Time? Will The Answering Centers Give A Busy Signal?

The system is designed to handle large volumes of calls. If however, all lines to a public safety answering point are busy, calls would be routed to a back-up answering point. If all lines to the back-up answering point are in use, the caller would hear a recording telling them to stay on the line and wait for a call taker to answer. The wait time should be minimal and hanging up could delay a response to your emergency.

If you have any questions about how the 911 system operates in Erie County, please contact Michelle Kerr, Deputy Director, Law Enforcement Communications of Erie County, Central Police Services at 716-858-2907.