How 911 Works


All of Shelby County is covered by 9-1-1 service, 
it does not matter if you live in a city or unincorporated area, 
9-1-1 will provide access to your local emergency agencies.


Shelby County is served by an Enhanced 9-1-1 system. The name, address and phone number of the telephone used to dial 9-1-1 is displayed on a computer screen at the 9-1-1 center if you have a traditional wired telephone.

Cell phones display your location subject to exceptions. Cell phones are not as precise as a traditional telephone and you should be prepared to give a location if you call from a cell phone. Read more about cell phones and 9-1-1.

If you are considering a VoIP phone provider, please read the fine print related to 9-1-1. The FCC has ruled that all VoIP carriers must provide full 9-1-1 service as of November 28, 2005, but not all provides route 9-1-1 calls directly to Shelby County 9-1-1.  A good resource for consumer information is https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/voip-and-911-service.

TTY / TDD Users Dial 9-1-1. Read this if you use TTY to communicate.

Combining location information with questions asked of the caller, the Call-Taker determines which emergency agency, or agencies, should respond to the scene. The department(s) are then notified to respond by a Dispatcher. Over 95% of calls are dispatched within 90 seconds of being answered


When to Call 9-1-1...

Call 9-1-1 to report any emergency. Police, Fire or Medical. If you need help immediately, call 9-1-1. Don't waste time, call 9-1-1 as soon as you think help is needed!

  • Car wreck
  • Someone is choking on their food
  • Fire of any type, house, woods or other building
  • If you see a crime
  • Dangerous situation such as gas leak or a power line down
  • Someone is drowning
  • Someone is hurt or is bleeding or is having trouble breathing
  • Tornado or other severe weather damages your home

What Should I Say?

All you have to do is answer our questions! Stay on the phone and answer the Dispatcher's questions as calmly as you can. We will ask the following:

  • The location of the problem.
    If you do not know the address, be prepared to give directions or describe your location.
  • The type of problem.
    Tell us in plain language what is happening.
  • Details about the problem
    The Dispatcher is trained to get more information while the emergency units are responding.

What Can I Do?

You can make a real difference by helping until the emergency units arrive, and the Dispatcher will provide directions for things such as:

  • CPR
  • Rescue Breathing
  • Childbirth
  • Choking (Heimlich maneuver)
  • Controlling Bleeding
  • Other first-aid

    Emergency Medical Dispatchers are trained to provide pre-arrival instructions to callers. Medical emergencies are the most common use of pre-arrival instructions.


When NOT to Call 9-1-1...

Do Not Call 9-1-1 if the problem is not an emergency, look up the non-emergency number in the phone book. If you call 9-1-1 for non-emergencies, someone with a real emergency might have a delay in receiving service.

  • To ask directions or for general information
  • To report water or electricity is out
  • To check if a police report is ready
  • To check for severe weather reports