General Questions

What agency directs the development of Enhanced 911 service?

The E911 Emergency Service Board works jointly with the Department of Technology and Information and emergency responders for the implementation and operation of statewide Enhanced 9-1-1.

What happens if I call 911 and there is a busy signal?

Please hang up and dial 911 again. As long as your local telephone service is operating, this situation is highly unlikely. The Enhanced 911 network has several back-up systems to ensure that 911 calls are answered.

How is Enhanced 911 service funded?

Enhanced 911 was funded initially by a $3.2 million bond approved by Delaware voters in 1988. In 1994, the Delaware Legislature implemented a monthly telephone customer surcharge . The current surcharge is $.60 per line, per month.

What is a 911 emergency?

A 911 emergency is when police, fire or medical services are needed right away in order to save a life, report a fire or stop a crime.

What number do you call for non-emergencies?

For non-emergencies, call the 7-digit telephone numbers of police, fire and ambulance services listed in the white pages of the local telephone book.

Is misuse of 911 against the law?

Yes. A person can be charged with misuse of the Enhanced 911 system if they repeatedly call 911 for non-emergency reports or questions. The first offense is a civil violation punishable by a $500.00 fine. The second offense is a Class E crime.

Can I send text or picture messages to 911 ?

No, the current 911 system is designed for voice communications. Other types of data, such as text messages, pictures and video cannot be accurately interpreted by the system, and therefore cannot be directly received by the 911 centers.

Why is Enhanced 911 needed?

Enhanced 911 is a lifesaving public safety service. The system immediately identifies the 911 caller's address and allows the public safety call takers to quickly send emergency services to the scene. Many times during a crisis, a 911 caller is unable to provide this critical information. Enhanced 911's location feature helps minimize delays in emergency response that could endanger a person's life or property.

Is Enhanced 911 available in all Delaware communities?

All towns in Delaware have access to Enhanced 911.

Are communities required to assign physical addresses?

While law does not require community addressing, towns are strongly encouraged to participate in the process. When physical addresses are assigned, the public can take full advantage of Enhanced 911.

What is the key benefit of Enhanced 911?

A 911 caller's location and telephone number are automatically displayed at the public safety answering point (PSAP).

Will emergency responders be able to find me?

Enhanced 911's addressing feature for wireline telephones help call takers to locate the caller and dispatch emergency services quickly to the scene. Call takers will always try to confirm the location of the emergency but this information is often difficult to obtain during a crisis. That is why it is critical that accurate addresses are available to Enhanced 911.

Under Enhanced 911, who answers my 911 calls and how are emergency responders dispatched?

The primary responsibility of Delaware's 9 Public Safety Answering Points, known as PSAPs, are to answer all 911 calls in their local coverage area. Each Delaware community is matched with a PSAP.

Most of the time, the PSAP handles both the call answering and dispatch of the 911 call. 911 calls not dispatched by the PSAP are transferred to the appropriate agency. The Enhanced 911 system has sophisticated automatic transfer capabilities and policies require the PSAP to initiate the transfer within 10 seconds.

When should a caller use 911?

A person should only call 911 when there is an emergency that requires immediate action to save a life, to report a fire, or to stop a crime. For non-emergencies, the public should call the telephone number for police, fire and EMS in the white pages of their local phone book.

How do the deaf, hard of hearing and speech-impaired persons use Enhanced 911?

Enhanced 911 equipment has TTY capability and is ADA compliant. If the equipment detects TTY tones, it will automatically switch to TTY mode and immediately send out a greeting to the caller. The equipment can be manually switched to TTY mode with a keystroke, which facilitates the testing of silent calls.

Addressing Questions

Is enhanced 911 available in towns with "RR Box" addresses?

People without a street address (e.g., 58 Pine Lane) can call 911 for emergencies. They will not benefit from the system's location safety feature until their town completes addressing.

Street signs keep disappearing in my town, what can I do?

Theft of street signs is against the law and is a problem in many communities. They are a vital part of the 911 system as they allow responders to find callers faster.  If you see someone stealing or vandalizing signs, call 911.

Why is addressing a critical part of Enhanced 911?

A 911 caller's address (stored in the Enhanced 911 system) routes the call to the correct PSAP so that emergency services can be dispatched immediately. With older 911 systems, calls were routed by telephone exchange and did not always reach the correct public safety answering point. Knowing the emergency caller's address helps dispatchers send emergency services to the scene quickly.

Do communities have the authority to create physical addresses?

Yes. Every Delaware community has the legal authority to create physical addresses under Municipal Home Rule Powers, Article VIII, Part 2, Section 1 of the Constitution of the State of Delaware and Title 30-A M.R.S.A Section 3001.

What happens if a 911 caller's address is not correct?

There are procedures that PSAP call takers must follow to report and correct addressing discrepancies after a 911 caller has notified them of the error.

What happens if a person moves?

When you notify your telephone company of a new address, their system will automatically update this change in the Enhanced 911 database.

VoIP Questions

Can I dial 911 from my VoIP phone?

You can reach emergency assistance by dialing 911 on most VoIP phones. However, there are important differences between some VoIP 911 emergency dialing and traditional 911 service from a standard phone. Sometimes the 911 call taker may not have a display of the number your calling from or your location. In addition, your call may arrive at a remote private call center if there is confusion over your location.

How do I know what level of 911 service I have with my VoIP phone?

The best way to find out is to research the features of your VoIP provider as it pertains to 911 on its web site. Search for "emergency calling." Once you know its features, you should notify all potential phone users, including frequent visitors and babysitters.

How is a VoIP 911 call routed to the correct 911 center?

When you sign up for VoIP service, you are asked to register your location. For a 911 call to go to the right 911 center, it MUST correspond to the physical location of your VoIP phone. This address allows the VoIP provider to route the call to the right place. You cannot use a PO Box or Rural Route address.

What if my 911 call is misrouted to the wrong 911 center?

If your VoIP call is routed to the wrong 911 center, you should tell the call taker the city, county and state where you need help. The call taker will likely attempt to transfer your call to the right 911 center, but it is always a good idea to have the phone numbers of the police, fire and rescue on hand for easy reference.

Does 911 know where I am when calling from my VoIP phone?

Possibly. No matter where your call routes, the 911 call taker will first ask you to either provide or verify your location, name, and telephone number. If this information is not available automatically, your call routes to a remote, private call center that will determine where your call needs to go based on the information you provide.

Can I call 911 from my VoIP phone when I’m traveling?

Some VoIP providers offer the ability to travel with your phone. If so, the provider should offer a way to update your registered address but some the time it takes to update this address varies greatly. The safest thing to do is if you travel with your phone on a temporary basis, is use another phone to dial 911 if you need help.

Do service outages affect my ability to call 911?

They might. Just as a cordless phone may not work without power, your VoIP phone may not work without power either. As a result, you may be unable to make any calls, including those to 911, during an electrical outage. Similarly, if your cable or broadband service is interrupted, it may keep you from being able to make outbound calls.

Should I keep my traditional phone line after I subscribe to VoIP service?

Yes. 911 leaders recommend you keep your traditional phone in addition to your VoIP phone in order to insure you can access 911 services and have access to a phone in a power or service outage.

Will my security monitoring service work with VoIP service?

It might but then it might not. Check with your provider to see if they support analog modem traffic that is need for burglar alarms and fax machines.

Wireless/Cellular Questions

Does 911 work from my cell phone?

Yes, all cell phone companies doing business in Delaware have activated 911 dialing.

When I call 911 from my cell phone will the dispatchers know where I am?

Cell phones cannot give your exact location like a traditional phone does. Try to have your address ready, or use landmarks, mile markers and road signs to describe where you are.

What is Phase I 911 service?

Phase I is a requirement of the Federal Communications Commission for wireless phone companies to provide the address of the cell tower that processes a 911 call and the call back number of the cell phone to the Public Safety Answering Point.

What is Phase II 911 service?

Phase II is a requirement of the Federal Communications Commission for wireless phone companies to provide an approximation of the 911 callers location in the form of latitude and longitude.

How far along is my cell phone company with implementing Phase II?

All wireless phone providers in Delaware have implemented Phase II service.

Your website says my cell phone company finished Phase II. Will dispatchers know where I am now?

Possibly. The accuracy of the latitude and longitude can vary depending on the signal strength of your phone in relation to the tower that transmits your call. Also, you need to be using a phone compatible with the Phase II solution of your wireless carrier. The more information you can provide the dispatcher about where you are, the faster we'll find you.

How do I know if my phone is Phase II capable?

You should check with your cell phone provider to find out if the handset you are currently using is compatible with their Phase II Enhanced 911 solution. Many older phones do not have this capability.