There are many things you can do to prepare yourself if you ever need to dial 911 in an emergency, here are some tips to make sure you are getting the help you need.
Know when to call 911 - 911 is for emergencies only if someone is hurt or in danger, or if you need immediate need of police, fire, or medical assistance. You should err on the side of caution, if you are not sure if your situation is an emergency, call 911 and let the Dispatcher make the choice to send help or not.
Know when NOT to call 911 - don't call 911 because you lost your pet or to complain about the noisy neighbors down the street. While these may seem like emergencies to you, they aren't for public safety. Calling 911 when you do not have an emergency wastes resources and ties up phone lines at the 911 center, making it harder for people with actual emergencies to get through and get help. Also know that calling 911 even by accident may still require police to come verify there is no emergency depending on departmental policies.
Know where you are - This is the most important information you can have ready when you call 911. This is also the first question you will be asked by the call taker when your call is answered, be as detailed as possible. If you do not know the address you are at, look for cross streets and landmarks that can help identify where you are. If you are in a large building or one with multiple levels help by stating what floor you are on and if applicable an apartment number. Depending on the call center you have reached you may have to be transferred to another jurisdiction, be patient in this situation the call taker will get you help as soon as possible.
Stay calm - You are the eyes and ears for the call taker when you call 911. Even in a stressful situation try not to panic, if you are yelling or crying it can be hard for the call taker to understand you and may unnecessarily delay help. If you can, stay strong, pull yourself together, and answer all of the call takers questions as best as you can. Remember the call taker wants to get you help as quickly as possible, but they need your help to do that.
Never hang up - Even if you called 911 on accident, or if your situation was resolved it is important to remain on the line to let the call taker know this. If you hang up before your call can be answered the 911 center will assume the worst and have to call you back or send help anyway. This will take away resources and the ability for the center to answer other emergency calls and waste department resources attempting to locate you.
Do not hang up until the call taker has given the ok to do so, keep in mind that the call taker can dispatch responders to you without disconnecting the call. The call taker will be asking you question and updating the responders at the same time with information.