WHEN TO USE 911
911 is designed for emergency use. Only use 911 if you have an emergency or a problem that require immediate assistance from Law Enforcement Agencies, Fire Departments, or Emergency Medical Services. Do not call regarding business questions or billing information, for this information call the non-emergency numbers
911 is meant for EMERGENCIES only. Do not use 911 for directory assistance, to get telephone repair, to contact an individual (for non-emergency information) with fire, police, or EMS agencies, or for EMS billing questions. For these type of calls, please use the non-emergency number 781-751-9300
911 Emergency Examples
- Someone breaking into your home now or one of your neighbors' homes
- Traffic accidents
- Fights in progress or displays of weapons
- Any medical emergencies
- Abandoned vehicles
- Loud parties
- Barking dogs
- Power outages
What questions to expect when you call for police, fire or ambulance services:
Dispatchers have the difficult task of quickly assessing a call and gathering large amounts of information for responding personnel. To provide police officers, firefighters and ambulance personnel with as much information as possible, dispatchers ask a lot of questions, which can vary depending on the type of call.
In emergency situations, callers can get frustrated by the number of questions because they are concerned that it causes a delay in personnel responding to the call. Callers sometimes do not understand why dispatchers need certain information. It is important to remember that, most often, as the dispatcher is getting information from you, it is being sent to another dispatcher who initiates the call to emergency personnel and provides them with updated information. Remaining calm and answering the questions asked by the dispatcher helps ensure the most appropriate, quickest and safest response by emergency responders.
Let the call-taker guide the conversation. He or she is typing the information into a computer and may seem to be taking forever. There's a good chance, however, that emergency services are already being sent while you are still on the line.
Stay calm. It's important to take a deep breath and not get excited. Any situation that requires 911 is, by definition, an emergency. The dispatcher or call-taker knows that and will try to move things along quickly, but under control.
Do not hang up the call until directed to do so by the call-taker.
Some of the commonly asked questions include:
- What is your location?
- Who is involved?
- What number are you calling from (in case the call is dropped especially if you are using a cell phone)?
- What is your emergency (what are you reporting)?
- If you are reporting a medical emergency, the dispatcher will ask you questions regarding the injured or sick person. Be assured that while they are asking you questions, another dispatcher in the room is sending the paramedics to your location and engaging emergency medical dispatch.
- If a crime is involved, and you saw or can see a suspect, be prepared to give a description:
- Sex, race, age, height, weight, hair color/length, color of eyes
- Clothing hat/cap, jacket/coat, shirt, pants, shoes
- Other pertinent information such as scars, marks, tattoos
- Vehicle description if necessary, which can include license plate number, color, year, make, model, style, two or four-door, how many occupants, and other features that stand out, such as dents, stickers, missing parts, etc
- Last known direction of travel of suspect (s) and/or vehicle(s)
We also need to know if you are going to be at, or near, the scene when we arrive because the emergency responders may need to talk with you. We may also ask you what kind of car you are in, or what color clothing you are wearing so that responding personnel can easily locate you.
If you do not wish to make yourself known, this is fine. When the dispatcher asks for your name, simply state that you do not wish to identify yourself.