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Three common 911 myths debunked

During emergencies, dialing 911 with confidence is crucial. Here are a few common misconceptions about what happens when you make the call.

Published on June 23, 2024
Article by MASA

Dialing 911 is the first step in getting help during an emergency, but unfortunately there are a few common misconceptions about this critical emergency response tool. Misunderstandings about how 911 works can lead to confusion or hesitation in using it effectively, delaying help in critical situations. Let’s uncover the facts, so you’ll be prepared to access the resources you need when you’re experiencing an emergency.

Myth: 911 operators can track your location

While many emergency dispatch centers have technology to trace the location of a 911 call made from a mobile phone, the tracking is not foolproof. That’s why it’s important to always provide your exact location when calling 911. Be prepared to provide your street address and room or apartment number (if applicable), plus any other detailed location information you can offer, such as major landmarks or cross streets nearby.

Myth: You could get in trouble for calling 911 if it turns out you’re not in an emergency

If you’re unsure whether your situation requires an emergency response, it’s still better to make the call. 911 dispatchers are trained to assess the situation and determine if you need emergency assistance — and they can even transfer you to non-emergency services if they find it’s needed. Of course, sometimes accidental calls can occur. If that happens, stay on the line to explain the situation, because just hanging up could result in emergency services being dispatched unnecessarily.

Myth: 911 is only available by phone

Many areas now support text-to-911 services for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or in situations where speaking may put them at risk. To see if this service is available in your area, check the Federal Communications Commission’s list here. Google, Apple, and Amazon smart speakers can also call 911 with a voice command but may require some additional setup or costs. And remember, you can always call 911 from any mobile phone with battery power, even if it doesn’t have a SIM card or a wireless service provider.

Be more confident in calling 911 with these reminders

If you are experiencing an emergency, don’t hesitate to make the call or send the text to 911. Stay calm, provide as much information as you can, and stay on the line until help arrives. Plus, as a MASA member, you can call 911 without ever having to worry about the cost of medical transport. No matter what happens, you can rely on MASA to provide comprehensive coverage and care for emergency medical transport.

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