Frequently Asked Questions
Why does 911 ask so many questions?
Our public safety telecommunicator/call takers are required to ask many questions in order to provide responding emergency services agencies an accurate picture of what is going on at your location.
In most cases, units are responding while you are speaking with the telecommunicator/call taker. Our public safety telecommunicators enter information updates into the CAD system as we gather the facts from you.
Does the time I take answering questions delay the dispatch of emergency units?
No. Once we verify your address, name, telephone number and the basics about what is going on, the incident is sent to a dispatch position via computer aided dispatch system.
When will help arrive?
The time it takes for a responder to arrive after your call depends on several factors. All calls are given a priority that is based upon the incident type and whether or not the incident is still in progress. The priorities are predetermined by the responding agencies themselves, not 911. Other factors are: weather conditions, how far the unit is from the incident, and how busy the agency is at the time. As a result, calls that are not a high priority may wait until a unit becomes available in the area.
Can I text message or instant message 911?
Yes. That said, text-to-911 is a best efforts attempt to facilitate communication to 911. It does not provide the same level of location information as a voice call. It is always faster to place a voice call to 911. However, in some situations when the caller does not want to speak because they fear for their safety, sending a text to 911 is appropriate.
Can Automatic Telephone Tape Dialers call 911?
No. It is unlawful to have an automatic telephone tape dialer call 911. In the unlikely event one of these calls is received, a law enforcement user agency must be dispatched to investigate the source of the call first. This process could potentially result in a significant emergency services response delay to the location.
Are there any other telephone lines answered at the 911 center other than 911?
Yes. The 911 center answers all of the 10-digit telephone numbers assigned to our user agencies for reporting non-emergency incidents. In addition, if someone calls one of our user agencies directly to report an incident, the user agency will transfer the call to the 911 center for processing. This enables our staff to maintain a constant awareness of what all of our user agencies are doing at any given moment.
Do I really need to have my address number on my home or business?
Yes. The Oswego County Addressing Law requires that your assigned address number be on the building. The addressing law is specific in this regard. If the building is a distance from the street, the law requires that the number be displayed on a post at the end of the driveway. Time is sometimes critical in an emergency. Not having your address number properly posted may result in a delay in emergency services arriving at your address.
Can I just have my address number on my mailbox?
No. While the U.S. Postal Service requires your address number to be posted on your mailbox, the 911 addressing law requires the number to be placed on the building. The most frequent complaint we receive from our 46+ user agencies is that they wasted valuable time attempting to locate the address that didn't have the address number posted.
If I accidentally call 911 can I just hang up?
No. NEVER hang up after calling 911. If you accidentally misdial 911, you cannot possibly hang up fast enough to cancel the call. Many 911 hang up calls are crimes in progress. We consider every 911 hang up to be an emergency unless we are able to verify otherwise. We always call 911 hang up calls back. If we receive an answering machine, no answer, busy signal, or the person sounds suspicious, law enforcement is immediately dispatched. In those situations, when we are able to reconnect with the caller we determine whether everything is ok. If it was a true accidental call an incident will be entered into our CAD system and cancelled without being dispatched.
What should I do if I am unhappy with the service I received from calling 911?
If you are not satisfied with our performance, you should ask to speak with the shift supervisor. If you decide to express your dissatisfaction after you have hung up, please call our non-emergency telephone number and ask to speak with the shift supervisor. If after speaking with the shift supervisor you are still not satisfied, you may contact the 911 Emergency Communications Department administrative office at 315-349-8215 or 1-800-679-3911 Monday-Friday during business hours. Our administrative staff will review the call. Upon request, we will get back to you with our findings. The Emergency Communications Department is committed to quality customer service. We take all customer concerns seriously.