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Besides 9-1-1, are any other numbers answered at the Communication Center?
Yes. The 9-1-1 Center answers not only 9-1-1 calls, but several other 7-digit numbers listed in the phone book as "non-emergency" for the Montgomery Police and Fire Departments. For instance, the Police Department listings in the phone book read: "Emergency Calls --9-1-1" "Non-Emergency or Police Service --241-2651 or "Fire Department After Hours -241-2400" All of those numbers ring to and are answered by the same 9-1-1 call-taker.

Then what difference does it make whether I call 9-1-1 or the 7 digit number?
The City of Montgomery has an "Enhanced" 9-1-1 system. This means that when you dial 9-1-1 our call-takers will have your name, address and phone number displayed when they answer the phone. This will assist in making your call quicker and easier to process. This location display is also extremely important in cases where the caller does not know where they are, or cannot speak or give their location due to a medical problem or a variety of other reasons. Our call-takers do not receive this display when the 7-digit numbers are dialed. In addition, priority is always given to 9-1-1 calls.

Should I only dial 9-1-1 in a "life or death" emergency? What if I need the police for a more routine reason like a simple automobile accident?
You should dial 9-1-1 for any incident or event that has just occurred or is still in progress or that could be life threatening. A medical emergency which needs an ambulance, a fire, or any incident which has injuries or unknown injuries would certainly justify a call to 9-1-1. If you just have a question or need information please try to find the proper number in the telephone book. For instance, to find out if someone has been arrested and may be in jail, please look up the number for the City or County Jail.

You already know my address and phone number, so why do you ask me anyway?
Computers are a valuable tool we use in emergency communications but are not infallible. We must ask just to make sure as a life could be in jeopardy. Another possibility is that many people call from another number and location, so we don't want to send help to the wrong place and waste precious time.

Why do you ask so many questions that seem irrelevant when I call 9-1-1?
We ask questions pertaining to the location of an incident and descriptions of vehicles and people involved. Often we ask for descriptions of the victim's clothing as well as the suspect's clothing. This is to make sure that the officers who respond know which people are which. At times we also need to now if a crime is still occurring, or if it has occurred some time ago in order to judge if the suspects are still near the crime scene.

What if I do not speak English?
When necessary, the operator can immediately conference in an interpreter in more than 140 different languages. A non-English speaking caller may hear a short conversation in English and some clicking sounds as an interpreter is added to the call.

What happens when I call 9-1-1 accidentally and hang up?
The emergency communications operator will try to call you back. If the operator is unable to reach anyone then a police unit will be dispatched to investigate. If a caller accidentally dials 9-1-1 they should remain on the line and explain the accident to the operator who answers.

Why do you talk in "codes" and "signals" on the radio?
It is a myth that the use of 10 codes is to create a veil of secrecy. Instead, it is a method of communicating to avoid confusion and be brief. For example, it is much easier to say "25A" than to say "Traffic Collision with Injuries". A radio code sheet is available at the Police Department web site,

Why does it take the operators so long to answer 9-1-1?
Insurance Services Office requires public safety communication centers to answer 95% of 9-1-1 calls in 15 seconds or less and 99% of 9-1-1 calls in 40 seconds or less. However, if a serious incident occurs, many people dial 9-1-1 at the same time and it slows down our ability to answer each call. It is important to remember to not hang up and redial 9-1-1 as it will delay your call being answered. 9-1-1 calls are answered in the order in which we receive them so the longest ringing call gets answered first.

What should I do if I am unhappy with the service I received from dialing 9-1-1?
If a caller is not satisfied with the services provided by 9-1-1, they should ask to speak with the shift supervisor. If they have already disconnected, they can call back the same number they originally dialed and ask for the supervisor. The caller should explain to the supervisor the circumstances of the call and why they are not satisfied with the service they received. The shift supervisor is responsible to investigate the complaint, determine if 9-1-1 personnel acted properly or not, and if not to take whatever action they deem appropriate to address the issue. The caller may ask the supervisor to call them back with the results of the investigation. Supervisors cannot, however, send a written resolution of the incident. Callers requesting a reply in writing should call (334) 240-4111 during administrative office hours. Complaints can also be made on line by completing the DOC Complaint Form.

What happens should I dial 911 by mistake?
Accidentally calling 911 occasionally happens by hitting the wrong button or when a child plays with the phone. First of all, DON'T HANG-UP! Stay on the line and tell the emergency operator that it was a mistake, otherwise they will attempt to call back. If they receive no answer, a police officer will be sent to your home to verify everything is all right.

Should I set 9-1-1 to auto dial or speed dial on my home or business phone?
Do not program 9-1-1 into your home or cellular phones and be sure to lock cellular phones. Experience has proven this to be the cause of unintended calls which unnecessarily burden the 9-1-1 system. There is also no significant time saved from programming the number into your autodial. In fact, there is greater potential for dialing error.

Should I be concerned about reaching 9-1-1 if I have a Internet based phone service (VoIP)?
Internet-based phone calls made to the 9-1-1 system can delay emergency services from responding quickly. Internet-based phone calls, also known as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), may endanger lives because 9-1-1 calls can potentially be routed to the wrong emergency call center or not routed at all. Subscribers to Internet-based phone services should make sure their Internet provider gives access to local 9-1-1 emergency communicators and that the service can display their address information to the local 9-1-1 emergency call center. Otherwise, emergency communicators will have trouble locating you during an emergency and be delayed from providing the help you need.

Last updated: 12/2/2010 11:48:41 AM