When to Call 9-1-1/How 9-1-1 Works

Use 9-1-1 to stop a crime in-progress, report a fire or smoke, or call for an ambulance. Any incident, which threatens life or is an immediate threat to property, justifies a 9-1-1 call.

How does 9-1-1 work?

When you dial “9-1-1” from a hard-line phone, the call is automatically routed to the nearest Public Safety Answering Point, or PSAP, based on the address at which the phone line is installed. For everyone living inside the city limits of Davis, the PSAP is Davis Police Department. The dispatcher answers the call, determines the nature and level of assistance required, and sends the appropriate emergency personnel. The procedure is a bit different for residents and businesses in El Macero, Royal Oaks and other outlying areas. The PSAP for these areas is Yolo County Emergency Communications Agency, which dispatches law enforcement. If you are calling from the outlying areas and need fire or medical assistance, your call will be transferred to Davis Police Department, as they dispatch the fire and ambulance. Police assistance in those areas is provided by the Yolo County Sheriff's Office. The University of California, Davis also has their own PSAP for all 9-1-1 calls on the university campus.

When the Dispatcher answers a 9-1-1 call, the caller's address and phone number should be automatically displayed. This technology is called ALI/ANI, (Automated Location Information/Automated Number Information). To avoid any possibility of error, the Dispatcher will confirm the ANI/ALI information with the caller.

What if I call 9-1-1 from my Cellular phone?

Initially all cellular phone users who dialed 9-1-1 would be received by the California Highway Patrol, who would then transfer the caller for the city to our Dispatch Center. With advancements in technology and State legislation requirements, cell carriers are required to provide more cellular towers to direct route 9-1-1's to local PSAPs. This is a multi-year process around the state and is still in progress. There are two phases for compliance from cellular phone service providers. Cellular phone users with Phase I technology can call 9-1-1 in the city and they are directly routed to the Davis PSAP, but the caller's location is not. It only provides the location of the cellular tower the call was received on. Cellular phones with Phase II technology have the direct connectivity as Phase I and it includes GPS mapping capability so dispatchers can pinpoint the caller's location in the form of latitude/longitude coordinates, usually within 50-100 meters or better.

The City of Davis PSAP is Wireless Phase I & II compliant, meaning we are capable of receiving cellular 9-1-1 calls directly into our PSAP and have the mapping technology to locate callers, so long as the cell phone itself meets the requirements (most current phones do meet the requirement-older phones do not).

For those cell phones without Phase II technology, there are 7-digit emergency lines that directly connect a caller to the City of Davis Dispatch center. The 7-digit emergency numbers are:

  • For Police Emergency Dial: (530) 758-3600
  • For Fire Emergency Dial: (530) 756-3400

For more information on the State 911 cell phone project, visit the Department of General Services website.

What do I do if I accidentally dial 9-1-1?

If you dial 9-1-1 by mistake, it is important that you remain on the line and tell the dispatcher that the call was a misdial. The dispatcher may confirm the address and telephone number from which you are calling. This is simply a way of confirming your address is accurate, in case of a future emergency. You will not be billed for calling 9-1-1 by mistake. If you disconnect before the dispatcher can confirm you are okay, police officers will be sent to your house to make sure that assistance is not actually needed.

When should I use the non-emergency #?

The non-emergency number 530-747-5400, should be used to report incidents which are no longer occurring, or where calling 9-1-1 would not increase the chances of preserving life, property or of apprehending suspects. Some examples of when to use this number are:

  • Your car was stolen overnight.
  • Your vehicle was broken into overnight.
  • Yesterday, you saw a suspicious person in your neighborhood.
  • Someone stole your bike while you were at school.
  • You need to add additional items to a theft or burglary report you have already made.

This number should also be used to report non-emergency calls for service including:

  • Noise/party complaints.
  • Parking complaints.
  • Abandoned vehicles/bikes.

The non-emergency number is answered 24 hours a day by either the Records staff (during standard business hours) or by dispatchers (evenings and weekends).

What to expect When You Call 9-1-1

Questions you may be asked include:

  • Where are you?
  • Where is the incident?
  • What is happening?
  • When did this happen?
  • Description of suspect/vehicle?
  • What is your name?
  • What is your phone number?

It is important to remain calm and answer each of the questions asked. The dispatcher will send help, while simultaneously asking you questions. Staying on the line and answering the dispatcher’s questions will not delay help from responding units. When it is safe to do so, the dispatcher may request that you stay on the line to provide updated information. You will be acting as the “eyes and ears” for the dispatcher and officers who are responding to the call for help. Information that you provide, such as suspect description and direction of travel, will help officers en route to your call.

How long will it take for help to arrive?

The response time has many different factors. For instance, the nature and circumstances of what you are reporting, what else is happening in the city, and where the officer(s) are responding from.