Calling 911 from a Cell or VOIP (Internet) Phone
Calling 911 from a Cell Phone
Always choose a wired landline phone first as this provides address location and call back number. Wireless calls do not always provide important information such as location and phone number. Be prepared to tell the dispatcher your location, call back number and your emergency.
When calling 911 from the islands your call may be captured by a mainland dispatch center instead of San Juan's dispatch center. It is possible that your call may be captured by a Canadian cell provider and routed to a Canadian dispatcher instead. Therefore it is important to make sure that the dispatcher knows both your address and town.
If there is any doubt about being able to reach a 911 dispatcher here in San Juan County you can always call the direct line at 360-378-4141.
- Phones are often preprogrammed for dialing 911 by pressing the “9” key.
- You can deactivate this feature.
- Lock your keypad, to prevent misdials while carrying your phone (in your pocket or purse).
What if I have an Accidental dial?
- Do not hang up.
- Explain it was a misdial.
- Answer a few questions:
- You will be asked if you are safe.
- Are you free to talk?
- You may be asked your name
Uninitialized Cell Phones
- Wireless phones with no service are still capable of calling 911.
- Uninitialized phones will NOT provide your location and call back number.
- These phones cannot be called back if more information is needed.
- Your old cell phone should never be given to a child as a toy, unless you remove the battery.
Calling 911 from a VOIP or Internet Phone
Can I dial 911?
Yes, unless you register for 9-1-1 services with your VOIP company, there is no guarantee your call will go to 911 in your area
How is my 911 call routed?
Your VOIP carrier will register your phone to access the 10 digit phone number with your local 911 center.
What if my 911 call is disconnected?
If you do not receive a callback, dial 911 again
Do service outages affect my ability to call 911?
Yes, VOIP calls do not work if your service is out.
Does 911 know where I am when I call from my VOIP phone?
No, your line is registered to a fixed location
Can I call from my VOIP phone when I am traveling?
Yes, but you will call the 911 center registered to your fixed address.
San Juan County 911 received a call from a family vacationing in New York during a medical emergency.
What if I move?
You must re-register your phone with the VOIP company or your call will show your old address.
Do I need to tell my family that I have changed to VOIP?
Yes, many family members will not realize the different service abilities.
Can I make a test 911 call from my VOIP telephone?
You should only make a test call after calling the non-emergency line and advise the dispatcher you would like to make a test call.