How does my call get to 9-1-1?
When you call from a phone at a residence, business, or other land-based phone, the phone number from which you are calling determines which 9-1-1 center the call receives the call for assistance. Cell phone calls are processed differently, though there are similarities. Cell phones transmit a signal to the nearest cellular tower. The signal is transmitted to the closest 9-1-1 center, as determined by the location of the cell tower that receives the incoming call. Sometimes cell phone calls are not routed to the correct 9-1-1 call center; however, 9-1-1 staff are trained to direct your call to the correct center to get the help you need.
There are some locations near a town, village, or county border that may direct calls to a different jurisdiction, or to multiple 9-1-1 centers. In those cases, you might speak to more than one dispatcher, as each 9-1-1 center involved gathers the information needed as directed by individual agency protocols.
If you are hearing or speech impaired, Illinois 9-1-1 agencies are equipped with a Text Telephone (TTY), also known as a Telecommunications Device for the Deaf, to allow communication through your TTY/TDD device. Norcomm personnel are also trained to work with relay services, and are able to handle your request.
If you do not speak English, we are able to contact the Language Line to provide an interpreter. It helps us if you use English to tell us the name of the language you speak.
Can I remain anonymous?
When you speak to our dispatchers, let them know if you want to remain anonymous. We will do all we can to protect the identity of our callers and will work with our client agencies to do the same, if possible.
Once you reach 9-1-1, the dispatcher will ask you some questions. If you do not have an emergency, the dispatcher may refer you to the non-emergency number for the jurisdiction that you are calling to request assistance. By referring the calls to another number, we can process your request more efficiently and put you in touch with someone who can give you the information you need. Additionally, lines for assistance can be cleared to further answer more incoming 9-1-1 call volume.
If you do have an emergency, the dispatcher will ask some questions to determine who to send. Some of these questions will be:
Where is your emergency? We need to know the location where the emergency occurred. Often, someone may call for a person at another location. Also, your information transmitted by the 9-1-1 record needs to be verified to make sure we are sending help to the proper location. Norcomm dispatchers would like to know an exact address, but sometimes you won't know that information. If you are able, provide a cross street or a block where help is needed. The more information you can provide, the faster our personnel and the responders will be able to locate the problem or request for assistance. We will ask for cross streets, information about the appearance or structure at the building were help is needed and other questions to help us find you as quickly as possible.
What is your callback number? We will ask to verify the number you are calling from for your request. Please don't forget to give the area code for the phone. Phone records that are transmitted to us from the 9-1-1 record are treated as a fallback only, and we do not rely solely on that information.
What is the emergency/what happened? We need to know about the problem for which you are seeking assistance. If you are able to provide information that helps our responders determine what type and level of response is needed, this assists us in properly processing the call.
When did this occur/How long ago? Information obtained from how long ago an incident occurred will also assist the dispatcher in determining a level of response. Also, additional resources may be needed.
Who is the victim? You may be calling for a neighbor or a friend, or for someone you do not know who you see or is in front of your home. We will ask this question so that we can locate the person that responders need to help. We may also ask for a physical, clothing or vehicle description.
Is an ambulance needed? Norcomm personnel can provide Emergency Medical Dispatch instructions while you await the arrival of EMS personnel. A person who is involved in an auto accident may or may not be injured. By asking this information, we can dispatch the call more effectively and shorten response times.
Who is the offender? You may be a witness to a crime, and your help is appreciated. By giving information about what you have observed to our dispatch personnel, the information can be relayed to first responders who can use that information to assist their response. We will ask you to describe a description of physical appearance, any vehicle involved and other pertinent information. If you did not see anyone, but only heard a sound, that is ok too; we appreciate the information and may use it to help our personnel respond.
Are there any weapons involved? The safety of the citizens of your community and our first responders is paramount. Information that is received can help reduce the risk of public safety personnel and help decrease the chance of any potential injury. Again, you may be asked additional questions depending on your information, and we appreciate the help you are giving.
While we ask the questions, we are entering the information into a computerized dispatch system. Our dispatchers can see that information and send help to you while we are still talking to you on the phone. Answering questions does not delay response. We will often keep you on the phone and obtain more information to relay the Police/Fire/EMS responders.
Norcomm also provides Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) instruction. These pre-arrival questions help first responders and can provide such medical instructions in lifesaving techniques such as CPR, choking assistance, and childbirth assistance. Our personnel are trained in this procedure and maintain a certification and license through the state of Illinois. The information and assistance we provide and relay to the responders may improve the quality of care EMS personnel can provide.
Norcomm personnel keep track of all the responding units and all of the calls waiting for service for our agencies. Sometimes it is necessary to change the assignment of a unit so they can respond to a different call that is more of an emergency. Dispatchers are trained to prioritize and handle multiple calls for assistance at the same time. Dispatchers may ask you to wait on the line while another request is answered, and return to your call. Please do not hang up, we will return to your call and complete your request for assistance.
For Additional information about calling 9-1-1, please go to www.il911info.org