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Arizona Department of Public Safety Provides 9-1-1 Emergency Calling Information

Thursday, December 31, 2009 -

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The Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) would like to provide some valuable information, guidelines and tips on when to use and not to use the “9-1-1” Emergency Number. In addition, this news release will identify the confusion presented by misleading information circulating on the Internet advising of abbreviated phone dialing code emergency numbers for contacting the state police. Unfortunately, the abbreviated phone codes do not work in all states and they definitely will not work in Arizona.

In the United States, “9-1-1” is the designated dialing format for emergencies. The concept of establishing one designated, quick-dial, nationwide emergency phone number, began in 1957 as a recommendation by the National Association of Fire Chiefs. Their initial focus was to institute a quick dial format that could be easily remembered for the reporting of fire related emergencies. The concept was later picked up in 1967 by the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice who recommended that a single number should be established for the reporting of a broader range of emergencies requiring a public safety response. The President’s Commission then enlisted the aid of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) for review of the proposal and by 1968 the “9-1-1” digits were established as the format for the universal emergency code.

There is only one emergency phone number in Arizona to request emergency assistance from DPS and that is to dial “9-1-1.” Though the “9-1-1” Emergency Number has been in place for over 40 years, there are still many problems with the proper usage of the nationally known emergency number by many callers.

The widespread usage of the Internet has created an additional problem with the several “urban legends, hoaxes” and other mass information circulated about various types of other emergency numbers. One of those confusing tidbits is the abbreviated phone dialing codes“*77” or “#77” that are supposed to connect a cellular phone user directly to the state police anywhere in the United States. There are several states that do have some type of abbreviated phone dialing codes which will connect the caller to the state police but again there is no national standard and those codes will not work in Arizona.

I have provided an Internet link which contains some helpful guidelines and tips for when to use the “9-1-1” Emergency Number to contact DPS. The second Internet link provides information on which states use abbreviated phone dialing codes and what are the specific phone codes for that state.

There are also times when a caller only needs to report or request information from DPS that is not regarding an active emergency. Using the “Directory/Contact” link located at the top of the DPS Web site Home Page would be the best format for any non-emergency inquiry. The Internet link below will connect directly to the “Directory/Contact” site and will provide department phone numbers and links to send an E-mail inquiry.

It should be noted that DPS Operational Communication Centers have the capacity to receive phone calls from hearing or speech impaired citizens through the use of special text telephones. In addition, the centers have the ability to connect with translation services to receive calls from non-English speaking callers.

The following information was developed by the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the National Emergency Number Association (NENA).

Guidelines and Important Points When Using “9-1-1:”

v The “9-1-1” Call Taker will need specific information on what is occurring, so allow the Call Taker to guide you in providing the emergency information.

v Try to stay to calm and be ready to provide your name, your connection to the incident, a brief description of the incident, the location with the direction of travel, when the incident occurred, others involved and listen closely to the Call Taker’s questions for additional information and instructions.

v Do not hang up if you dial “9-1-1” in error, wait for the Call Taker to answer and then explain your mistake.

When to Call “9-1-1:”

v When there is the need for medical, fire or a police response due to an incident where assistance is immediately needed to render medical aid, protect life or to advise of a life-threatening situation.

v When a crime is being witnessed that is occurring or has just occurred and an immediate response is warranted to attempt to capture those involved, prevent further harm to others or to prevent criminal destruction of property.

v When the caller is involved in a traffic collision requiring police and/or medical response or if the caller is a witness to the collision or just advising of the location.

v When your vehicle has become disabled and stopped in a hazardous position requiring immediate assistance for its removal, either in a travel lane, blocking traffic or near fast moving traffic.

v When you witness a vehicle driving in an unsafe or hazardous manner and its actions present a clear and present safety danger to motorists.

Do Not Call “9-1-1:”

v For travel directions or trip information

v For roadway status

v For weather information

v For any type of practical jokes (this is a criminal violation of state law)

v For questions related to being stuck in traffic

v To check on the status of someone traveling through Arizona

v To inquire about any non-emergency related information

For more information about DPS please visit the Web site at:

For current public highway road and weather conditions, that information is provided by the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) on their Web site at:

The Arizona Department of Public Safety is a state-level law enforcement agency whose mission is to protect human life and property by enforcing state laws, deterring criminal activity and providing vital support to the State of Arizona and its citizens.