WHEN to call 9-1-1
9-1-1 should only be used for an emergency
- An emergency is a life-threatening situation, crime in progress, or serious crime that has just occurred. Obviously there are other situations that require Police, Fire, or medical response, but are not really appropriate for 9-1-1. In those instances, you may call (760) 435-4900 24 hours a day for non-emergency assistance. If you are not certain whether you have an emergency, call 9-1-1 and the dispatcher can assist you.
TIPS for calling 9-1-1
Be prepared for the following questions
- Where is the incident occurring?
- When did it occur?
- What happened?
- Who is the suspect?
- Be patient with the dispatcher and answer all the questions. These questions are necessary to ensure the safety of everyone involved. In many cases, the officers, firefighters, or paramedics are already being dispatched to the location while you talk to the call-taker.
- Even if the dispatcher’s questions seem unrelated or repetitious, let the call-taker lead the conversation and answer their questions as directly as you can. Dispatchers are specially trained to gather information in a certain order and to quickly assess the situation to decide what assistance is best to help you.
ACCIDENTALLY dialing 9-1-1
If you misdial, do not hang up!
- Please wait until the call is answered and explain that it was accidently dialed.
- If you hang up, it ties up resources to attempt to call you back or to send officers to check your welfare—resources that might be better used for a real emergency.
Does my cellular phone work the same as my home phone?
- No. Unlike your typical home phone, you must assume the dispatcher does not know where you are when you call on a cellular phone. Depending upon the type of phone and level of service, it may be possible for dispatchers to know a general area you are calling from, but that is not guaranteed. Therefore, you MUST stay on the line and give the dispatcher your location when calling from a cellular phone.
Does my Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone work the same as regular phones?
- No. Unlike your typical home phone, the address that appears to the 9-1-1 dispatcher is typically the billing address registered with your service provider. If you take your laptop and VoIP service on the road to a different city, it will still probably show that you are calling from your billing address. Please make sure to update your location with your service provider as needed.
Why do the dispatchers seem blunt and direct?
- Customer service is very important to us. That being said, your safety and the safety of the public safety personnel responding is our primary objective. There are times when the dispatcher may have to interrupt your story to get the essential facts into the call so we can send help as quickly as possible. They make every attempt to do so politely and professionally.
- There are times when there are more incoming phone calls than there are dispatchers to answer the calls. When this happens, you may have to be placed on hold multiple times so the dispatcher can screen incoming calls to ensure they do not require immediate assistance.
What if I don’t speak English very well?
- The 9-1-1 center is able to transfer your call to a contractor who provides translation services to more than 6,000 languages and dialects. There is no charge to callers for this service.
I’m interested in becoming a 9-1-1 dispatcher
- The City of Oceanside routinely hires new dispatchers and no prior experience is required.
- The salary range for Public safety Dispatcher: $4,094 - $5,221
- More information may be obtained on the City’s Web site www.ci.oceanside.ca.us.