You never know when an emergency will happen.
One of the first things you should do is find a phone, likely your mobile or cell phone and decide if you need to call 911. But not every call for an emergency – or what you initially think is an emergency – should be a call to 911. When in doubt, CALL 911.
The general rule: Call 911 any time there is a threat to a person’s life, safety or property – such as an vehicle accident, a crime, fire, smell of natural gas or a medical emergency. A 911 operator can tell you if your problem merits the 911 call, and then direct you to the correct phone number if it doesn’t.
But it’s always better to be on the safe side.
Don’t hesitate to call 911 for the following:
- A fire breaks out in your home or office. ANY FIRE – even a grease fire on your stove – merits a 911 call. Fires can grow and spread rapidly, even if you think you can put the fire out yourself.
- A medical emergency happens. Call 911 immediately for any life-threatening medical problem. These include chest pains, choking, difficulty speaking, drowning, numbness, poisoning, sudden intense pain, bleeding that doesn’t stop, severe burns, a suicide threat, drug overdose or other serious medical problem.
- You witness a crime or possible crime. If you see an assault, a burglary or a suspicious person lurking around a home or office, call 911. Go with your first instincts. It’s better for police to show up and prevent a crime than investigate something that’s happened hours ago.
- You’re in or you see a car crash or accident. Call 911, especially if someone is hurt or feels dizzy, or if there’s an obvious injury to the head, arm or leg.
If you call 911
If you have to call 911, it’s important to know where you are, what happened and how many people are involved.
Where are you?
- The first thing the 911 operator will ask you is “What is your emergency?” Give the operator a brief description that includes where you are. The location is vitally important, especially if you’re calling from a cell phone. Many 911 systems cannot find cell phones on their mapping applications, so be prepared to give as good a location as you can.
- Answer the dispatcher’s questions. The 911 operator is going to ask a lot of questions, but they’re all important and help them determine what kind and how much help needs to be sent to your location. 911 operators are well trained in making these initial decisions, but they need good information from you.
- Follow the dispatcher’s instructions. The 911 dispatcher is trained to help you keep safe and explain how to perform first aid while help is on the way. 911 dispatchers have instructed people on how to perform CPR, help a choking victim, stop bleeding and even help deliver a pregnant mother and child. Pay attention follow their instructions exactly.
When NOT to call 911
Never call 911 for any situation that’s clearly not an emergency. In Lexington during regular business hours, the city’s main switchboard, LexCall, can answer most non-emergency questions or direct you to the department, division or person who can. Call (859) 425-2255 or on a mobile phone, call 311. During nights and weekends, you can leave them a message.
Do not call 911 for any of the following:
- A loud party
- Barking dog complaints
- A power outage
- Burst water pipes
- Ask about paying parking tickets or fines
- The current temperature or weather forecast
- You have cold or flu symptoms
- Someone has a minor cut or injury
Remember, if you call 911 by mistake, don’t hang up. Wait until the operator answers, explain that you dialed by mistake and then hang up. Many 911 systems record the number of the inbound call even if an operator doesn’t pick it up. Many times, they will try to call you back to check on the nature of the call. So wait for them to answer, explain the mistake and move on.
In Lexington, you can reach the police department non-emergency number at (859) 258-3600. The non-emergency phone number for the fire department is (859) 231-5600.