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Posted on: February 14, 2023

What to Expect when Calling 911

911 call

The telephone number "9-1-1" has been designated as the universal emergency number for people throughout the United States to request emergency assistance. You never know when you might have to call for help, but you can learn what to expect when you call 9-1-1. 

“Our 9-1-1 call takers or ‘dispatchers’ do their best to reassure callers and take charge of the situation,” says Riclyn Betsinger, Teton County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch Manager. “Still, the experience can be stressful for a 9-1-1 caller who is not accustomed to dealing with emergencies. It can be helpful to learn a little about the 9-1-1 system and what to anticipate when you call.” Read on for more 9-1-1 information and tips.

  • How does calling 9-1-1 work?

Dialing 9-1-1 gives the public fast and easy access to a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP). When you call 9-1-1 from Teton County Wyoming, your call may be answered by one of three PSAPs depending on your location. Teton County Wyoming Sheriff’s Office, Yellowstone National Park, and Teton County Idaho Sheriff’s Office all maintain dispatch centers staffed by trained professionals who can connect you to the right resources regardless of where you are.

9-1-1 can be contacted from devices that can make phone calls (traditional landlines, cell phones, VoIP). Many cell phones and devices can also call 911 via text, by holding buttons, using voice activation, through crash detection, or other emergency applications. A voice call remains the best way to reach 9-1-1, but you should familiarize yourself with the functions of your device and how to activate or cancel an activation to 9-1-1.

  • When should I call 9-1-1?

Dial 9-1-1 when there is an emergency. Examples include when a person is hurt or in danger, or there is a serious situation in which you need law enforcement, fire or emergency medical services. For other reports, you can contact the Teton County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch Center on their non-emergency line at 307-733-2331. If you aren’t sure if your situation is an emergency, you should err on the side of safety and call 9-1-1.

  • What will happen when I call 9-1-1

The 9-1-1 call taker will guide you through a sequence of questions to quickly obtain the information necessary for dispatching the right responders to the correct location. They may also provide instructions about what to do until help arrives, such as such as step-by-step directions to aid someone who is choking or needs first aid or CPR. The call taker can dispatch responders to your location without disconnecting from the call, so stay on the line until they tell you it is ok to hang up.

  • What questions will the 9-1-1 call taker ask?

One question the 9-1-1 call taker will certainly ask is, “What is the location of your emergency?”. This is probably the most important information you can provide as a 9-1-1 caller. Even with advances in technology, the 9-1-1 center does not always know where you are based on the callback and location information that accompanies your call to the 9-1-1 center. Be prepared to provide an address, street, intersection, landmark, trail, or GPS coordinates. The call taker may ask you to repeat it for verification. 

Other common information you may be asked to provide is your name and the phone number you are calling from. Be prepared to give details about the emergency, such as describing people, vehicles, injuries, weapons, roadway blockages, or other safety issues.

  • What should I do if I dial 9-1-1 by accident?

If you call by accident or if the situation resolves itself, stay on the line and let the call taker know there is no emergency. Never hang up before telling the call taker what is going on. This saves them from having to call you back to confirm that there is no emergency.

Find answers to more frequently asked questions about 9-1-1 at

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