Speaking with a Dispatcher

What the Dispatcher Will Ask

It is important to know that answering questions posed to you by the dispatcher will not delay the response of emergency personnel. Field responders may actually be dispatched while you are still on the telephone. Any information you can provide in response to the dispatchers' questions will be relayed to responding units prior to their arrival. View some of the questions you may be asked by a 9-1-1 dispatcher below.

Your Location

Although the 9-1-1 system displays the location and telephone number of the caller, the address of both the incident and the reporting party, along with the telephone number still must be verified. The caller will be asked to state the address and telephone number and then requested again to verify the information. 

The Nature of the Problem

For all situations, provide the dispatcher with a basic description of the emergency situation. The dispatcher will determine if police, medical, and/or fire response is necessary. If possible, stay on the line to speak directly with their dispatchers.

The Time Element

The time the emergency occurred or a brief timeline of events surrounding the emergency may be important to investigators and emergency personnel. Remember to be as specific as possible.

Suspect Description

When reporting a police emergency, make sure to tell the dispatcher if the person had a weapon and what type of weapon it was, if applicable. Other important descriptions that may help authorities include the suspects:

  • Age
  • Clothing
  • Eyes
  • Gender
  • Hair
  • Height
  • Other physical identifiers, such as tattoos
  • Race
  • Weight
  • Direction of travel, if the suspect fled the scene

Vehicle Description

As best you can, describe the color, year, make, model, style, and license plate number of the vehicle involved. For questions concerning the nature of 9-1-1 calls, contact the Communications Center staff at (714) 993-8111 for more information.