Frequently Asked Questions

What is 9-1-1?

To give the people of New Orleans one easily remembered number to dial in case of emergencies, the Orleans Parish Communication District installed the 9-1-1 emergency telephone number. An emergency is any threat to life or property or a crime in progress. For example, a heart attack, a fire, and a fight in which someone could be seriously hurt are all emergencies. Such things as a burglary that happened while you were gone, a barking dog, and a burned out fire or a scheduled ride to the hospital or nursing 911 Emergency Fiire Police EMS are not considered emergencies. To find out more information or to report on one of these less urgent situations, use one of the seven digit numbers shown below.

Fire 483-2550 Police 821-2222 EMS 827-3200

A good question to ask yourself before calling 9-1-1 is, “Could someone’s life or property be saved or could a criminal be caught more easily if I called now instead of waiting a few hours?” If you think the answer is “yes” then call 9-1-1. If it is “no” dial one of other numbers

What happens when you dial 9-1-1?

When you dial 9-1-1 an operator will answer “9-1-1, what is your emergency?” Telephone company records give the number and address of the caller and are flashed onto a computer screen in front of the operator. As completely, clearly, and calmly as you can, describe what happened. The operator will ask you to repeat the address to which you want a car, fire truck, or ambulance to be sent. He or she will get as much information from you as possible about what the policemen, firemen or paramedics can expect to find when they arrive.
Don’t be afraid to answer completely and at some length. If necessary, the operator will send a car to the address you have given even while the two of you are talking. Because the operator is also in radio contact with the emergency vehicle, the information you give after it is sent may save a life.
It is important, if at all possible, for the caller to explain what has happened. Even though the telephone number and location are flashed on the screen, if no one stays on the line to tell what has happened, the operator may suspect a false alarm and will try to call the number back. Because she or he will be unsure whether to send a fire truck, police car or ambulance, the time it takes the appropriate emergency vehicle to get there will be slower. Also, the number and address that flash on the screen are only as good as telephone company records. To prevent the possibility of going to the wrong address, please be prepared to describe exactly what happened and where it happened.
Please remember that 9-1-1 is only an emergency telephone number. It does connect you quickly with police, fire, and medical operators, but it does not guarantee on-the-scene emergency vehicles. The speed with which someone arrives depends on the urgency of the situation you describe and the availability of resources at the time.

What happens when someone dials 9-1-1 as a prank?

In the first place it is a crime to knowingly give a false report of a crime, fire, or medical emergency. If you are caught doing so, you can be arrested and fined or imprisoned. Because the enhanced 9-1-1 system does show the number and the address from which the call came, it is possible to trace false alarms calls.
Second, if the operator is unable to determine whether or not the call is a real emergency, a police car will be sent to the address. Then, if a real emergency happens somewhere else, there would be fewer cars available to handle it. Such unnecessary calls cost taxpayers money and could cost property and lives. For the safety of everyone, don’t hesitate to call 9-1-1 in an emergency, but don’t do so for fun.

Why must I pay for 9-1-1 when I've never used it?

A tax paid on monthly telephone bills was approved by the voters in a 1982 election to fund the 9-1-1 equipment and operations. The cost is approximately $1.00 for residential customers, $1.25 for wireless customers and $2.00 for businesses. As with any other tax, such as social security or taxes for defense, we all pay so that the system will be there when we need it. You may have never used 9-1-1 yet and we hope you never have to, but your regular payment insures that 9-1-1 will be there for you if you do need it.

Why did no one answer immediately when I called?

During busy periods a call going into a 9-1-1 answering center falls in line behind others coming before it. Calls are then answered in the order in which they were received. 9-1-1 calls are usually answered within seconds. It is important to stay on the line until your call is answered. If you hang up and call back you will lose your place in line. Experts have found that when you are under stress a few seconds can seem much longer. Just so you will be able to judge how long it takes, a phone usually rings at the rate of 10 times per minute.

Can I call 9-1-1 from a cellular phone?

Calling 9-1-1 from a car or cellular phone will connect you with the agency which resides in your cell site. Since the Automatic Number and Location Identifiers do not work with cellular phones you must be sure to give the operator the exact location of the emergency. Occasionally the operator will transfer you to the appropriate jurisdiction where the emergency is located.

Why did no one come immediately when I called?

9-1-1 is only a means of quick reaching emergency operators. It does not itself provide the emergency service. How quickly an emergency vehicle is sent to answer your call depends on two factors: the type of emergency you have described and the availability of vehicles.

Can I call 9-1-1 from a TDY phone?

You may call 9-1-1 from a TDY phone or you may use 821-4327.

Can I call 9-1-1 from a pay phone?

Yes, No coin is required to call 9-1-1 from a pay phone.