about 911 dispatch
Emergency Communications Department
when to call 911 | when its not an emergency | how ECD set call priority | ECD site
When should I call 9-1-1?
9-1-1 is for emergencies, potential emergencies, or when an emergency is imminent.
Ask yourself, "What is the level of urgency?"
Is there a danger to life or property?
Is the caller or someone else the victim of a crime?
Do you have a police emergency?
Does the caller or someone else have a medical emergency?
Does the caller need the fire department?
If the public safety situation seems urgent and has the potential of escalating by not making the telephone call, call 9-1-1. The 9-1-1 professional will determine whether the call should be processed via 9-1-1, or whether the caller should be referred to another number or agency as appropriate.
If you call 9-1-1 by accident, do not hang up. Stay on the line and tell the dispatcher that everything is all right. If you don't, the dispatcher may think that something is wrong and send a police officer.
return to top
What if I need help but its not an emergency?
Use these seven digit numbers for Police, Fire, and Ambulance services for San Francisco.
POLICE: 553-0123 (voice/TTY)
FIRE/MEDICAL: 558-3268 (voice/TTY)
return to top
How is my telephone call for police, fire, or medical help prioritized?
When a call is placed to the Emergency communications Department, public safety telecommunicators consider many factors when making decisions as to the appropriate response to requests for advice, referral, or dispatch. Some of the factors are listed below. When police fire, or medical services need to be dispatched, telecommunicators send resources according to a prioritized response system designed to give the highest priority to the most serious emergency requests from the public and public safety responders. These calls involve a threat to or the presence of imminent danger to life or major property.
Once emergency police, fire, and medical service needs are met, resources are allocated to provide the best possible response for the next highest level of public safety services where information provided to the telecommunicator substantiates an urgent response, but not to the same degree as a situation involving an imminet threat to life or major property.
Once resources have been provided for the most serious police, fire, and medical emergency calls, as well as to calls of an urgent nature, remaining available resources for law enforcement related calls where there is no present danger to life or property will be sent as soon as conditions permit.
Examples of when a response may be given the highest priority:
· Gunshots are being fired
· burglary in progress
· suspect is in the area of a bank robbery that just occurred
· smoke or flames are coming from a building or structure
· Someone has stopped breathing
· Severe bleeding from a dangerous body part
· Water or cliff rescue
· Or other major thereat to life or property
Examples of when a response may be given the next highest priority:
· Building alarm has just activated
· Shoplifter was taken into custody by store security
· Sick person with no priority symptoms
· Leaky fire hydrant
· Examples of when a respone may be sent as soon as conditions permit
· Burglary occurred to the caller's business sometimes over the weekend
· Owner discovers vehicle may have been stolen
· Found property
Factors involved in prioritization
Each call for service is unique and requires prioritization on a case by case basis. Given below are examples of some of the factors considered when assessing threat levels:
· Use of violence
· Injuries and symptoms preseted
· Presence of weapons or hazardous materials
· Level of threat to public health or safety
· Evidence is left at the scene
· Witness is present
· Amount of time that has passed since the incident
· Victims are children, dependent adults, elderly, or persons otherwise considered to be at risk
return to top