911 Call Scripts

What You Will be Asked, and Why

People are often in stressful situations when they call 911. Before being put in this position, it's helpful for you to understand what kinds of questions you'll be asked when you access the 911 system. The call flow will go much smoother when the call taker is allowed to ask you questions in the order the information is needed. The following are some guidelines for the information that will commonly be required:

What is the address of the emergency?
  • This is the address where the emergency is actually occurring. If you're not at the address of the emergency, that information will be requested later in the call. If you don't know the actual address, it is important to know at least a cross street, or nearest hundred block on a street. It is also helpful if you can indicate a direction (i.e.; north, south, east, west). When asked for a location, avoid giving answers of "in Port Angeles," "at my house", or "on the highway." We need you to be specific. Also, if the emergency is moving (such as an impaired driver you're observing), we need to know the direction of travel (what street are they on and which direction are they driving toward).
  • If we ask you for a direction, please give us compass directions if you can. We're looking at a map, and we can see what's north, south, east, and west of us, but we may not know what "just left of the mailbox" means.
  • Remember: No matter what else you want to tell us, we can't send help if we don't know where the emergency is.
What is the phone number you're calling from?

This is the number to the phone you're actually dialing 911 from. Again, if your home phone number, or an alternate number is required, it will be asked for later. It is important for us to have this information in case we need to call you back to ask more questions, clarify directions, give further instructions, etc.

What is your name?

Please don't be insulted if we ask you to clarify, or spell your name. There are many spelling variations when it comes to names and it's important we obtain correct information.

Tell me exactly what happened.

Be as concise as possible. Tell us what the problem is NOW, not what led up to the problem.

  • "My father is having chest pain"
  • "My mother just collapsed"
  • "The neighbor is punching someone in his front yard"
  • "I just witnessed an accident"
  • "I see smoke coming out of my neighbors house"

All the details leading up to the emergency can be filled in later in the conversation after the initial information has been gathered.

For medical calls, you will be asked the following questions:
  • Is the patient conscious?
  • Is the patient breathing?
  • How old is the patient? (approximate age will do)

Your answer to the question about "what happened" will help us determine what the situation is. Based on that, we will ask you more specific questions and give you instructions about what to do while you wait for help to arrive.

For fire calls, you may be asked the following questions:
  • What exactly is on fire? To what extent?
  • Were flames observed or just smoke?
  • What color is the smoke?
  • Is anyone inside the building?
  • Do we know how the fire started?
  • Are there other items near the fire that it can spread to? (e.g. other buildings, tress, dry grass, etc) 
In a police situation, you may be asked the following questions:
  •  Vehicle description which may include: 
    • License Plate Number and State
    • Make
    • Model (sedan, SUV, 4-door, convertible, etc)
    • Color
    • Direction of travel
  • Suspect description which may include:
    • Suspect, or involved person's, name (last, first, middle)
    • Suspect, or involved person's, date of birth or approximate age
    • Description of suspect, or involved person (work from head to toe)
    • Race (white, black, hispanic, etc)
    • Male/Female
    • Height (if you can't guess, try judging by your own height)
    • Weight/Build (if you can't guess, judge by your own weight or think in terms of thin, medium, or heavy build)
    • Hair color/length
    • Facial hair
    • Distinguishing characteristics (glasses, limp, bad teeth, tattoos, etc)
  • Description of the suspects, or involved person's clothing from head to toe:
    • Hat (baseball cap, stocking hat, etc)
    • Jacket
    • Shirt
    • Pants
    • Shoes
    • Carrying anything?
    • Did you see any weapons? Did you hear anyone talking about weapons?

For both police and medical calls, you may be asked about:

  • Your relationship to the patient
    • Example: nurse, caregiver, sister, neighbor, friend, passerby, etc.
  • A description of the involved house, apartment building, etc
    • One or two story?
    • Is it a duplex, apartment, house, manufactured home?
    • Are there multiple buildings at the location? If so, give directions that pinpoint the exact location.
    • What color is the building?
    • Is there a vehicle in the driveway or parking lot?
  • Will you be standing by?
    • We need to know if you're going to be at, or near the scene when we arrive because responders may need to talk to you, or we may need you to point out the exact location, or who's involved.
  • Will you be standing by in a vehicle? If so, what kind?
  • Will you be returning home for contact? How long will it take you to reach your residence?
  • Will you be on foot in the area? If so, be prepared to give us your clothing description.

Just as every situation is different, so is every 911 call. If you call 911, you may not be asked every question listed above, but this information should help you be better prepared to make this important call.