911: Call if you can, text if you can't
When calling 911
- Call 911 only during a real emergency, such as someone is hurt, property is being damaged or a crime is being committed.
- Call 911 first before making any other call.
- Stay on the line until your call is answered, even if you dial 911 by mistake.
- Speak clearly and calmly.
- Tell the operator the location of the emergency, including the address, intersection and any landmarks you can see.
- Answer all of the operator’s questions to the best of your ability. Responders may be already on the way, so the information you provide helps them prepare for arrival.
- Stay on the line until help arrives or the operator tells you it’s OK to hang up.
- Teach children and those with disabilities how to call 911 for help. Resources are available
- Do not allow children to play with old cell phones, which may be able to dial 911.
- Do not hang up once 911 has been dialed. You can explain to the operator if the call was made by mistake. Wait until the operator advises you to hang up.
- Do not assume the operator knows your location.
- Do not hang up until you are advised to do so.
- Do not call 911 for non-emergencies when no immediate Police, Fire or EMS help is needed. Other help is available. For non-emergency public safety help, call 804-646-5100.
For mental health help, call 988, and see more information here.
For other types of help, see this printable graphic:
When texting 911
- Call if you can, text if you can’t.
- Send a text message to 911 if you are deaf or hard-of-hearing, can’t speak, or it is not safe for you to speak.
- Provide the exact location of the emergency in the text message.
- If you do not receive a reply by text or if you receive a reply that texting is not available, call 911.
- Do not text and drive.
- Do not send photos or videos to 911 at this time.
- Do not copy others on the message to 911. Text-to-911 cannot include more than one person.