calling 9-1-1

When to Call 9-1-1

  • In-progress crimes or crimes when the suspect is still in the area 
  • Traffic accidents when parties are still on-scene 
  • Hit-and-run traffic accidents 
  • Any crime involving bodily assault 
  • Any domestic violence crime 
  • Theft or intentional damage to property with at least $10,000 in loss or damages 
  • Motor vehicle (licensed for the road) theft 
  • Bomb, terrorist or hate-bias threats or acts 
  • Burglary (entering a structure with the intent to commit a crime, e.g. theft, damage to property.) 
  • Suspicious persons, vehicles or circumstances when in-progress or suspects are still in the area. 
  • Fires or possible fires 
  • Emergency medical or medical transport needs


Tips for Calling 9-1-1

  • Stay calm 
  • State the problem briefly 
  • Know where you are and your telephone number. This is very important information. If you don’t know the exact address, provide a hundred block, an intersection or a landmark to help the call-receiver to understand where you are 
  • Answer the call receiver's questions and stay on the line until the call receiver terminates the call. Help can be sent while you talk 
  • When providing information about an incident, be as descriptive as possible. You may be asked to give identifying information about any persons or automobiles involved in the situation 
  • Inform the call receiver if you do not want your name and address given to responding units. Inform the call receiver if you want to be contacted directly by the officer(s) or responders 
  • Calls from pay phones are free; you do not have to deposit money to make 911 calls 
  • TTY users may press any key after dialing 911 to indicate that a TTY is being used. However, "silent" calls are handled as a potential TTY call 
  • If the situation changes before help arrives, call 9-1-1 again and then give the call receiver an update 

When Not to Call 9-1-1

  •   When looking for directions or phone numbers 
  • For information about animal control issues unless the animal has bitten someone, or is currently acting aggressively 
  • To find out if someone is in jail or to get information on someone in jail. The Spokane County Jail Roster is available online for this information. You may also call the jail at 509-477-2278 
  • To report city issues that are not of a police, fire or medical nature. Refer to the government pages of the local telephone directory for the appropriate number 
  • To report a crime after the fact, (e.g. vehicle prowling, vandalism, custodial interference, harassment, etc) which do not require an officer/deputy at the scene you may call Crime Check anytime at 509-456-2233 
  • Any in-progress issues may be reported through Crime Check, however, if it is a life-threatening situation please use 9-1-1 
  • If you are unsure of how to report a crime or incident, call 911 and the call-receiver will direct you.

Texting 9-1-1

  • Call if you can, text only if you can’t.
  • Text-to-9-1-1 is available for those who cannot safely place a voice call to 9-1-1 in an emergency such as a home invasion, or for those individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability.
  • Customers unsure whether their carrier offers the ability to text to 911 should contact the carrier directly. Do not send “test” messages to 9-1-1
  • Spokane Regional Emergency Communications does not have control over text delivery from the carriers or cellular devices. Text-to-9-1-1 is designed for Short Message Service (SMS) texting, but continues to evolve quickly. Dialing 9-1-1 in an emergency is still the preferred and most efficient way to request help.

How to Text 9-1-1

  • Open your phone’s text messaging program 
  • Enter the numbers “9-1-1” in the “To” field (no dashes) 
  • Type a message with the location of the emergency (including city) and the type of emergency help needed (police, fire, or medical) 

Push the “Send” button 

  • Stay with your phone, be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 911 call taker 
  • Do not send “test” messages to 9-1-1 
  • Text-to-9-1-1 service is not yet available statewide. If you send a text to 9-1-1 from a wireless carrier or a city/county without Text-to-9-1-1 service, you should receive a message from your cellular provider saying that there is not text-to-9-1-1 service available at this time.
  • Spokane Regional Emergency Communications is live with Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint. Carriers that use the Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint networks (for example Virgin Mobile) may also deliver text messages to 911. If you are unsure whether your carrier offers text-to-9-1-1, please contact the carrier directly.

Tips for Texting 9-1-1

  • 9-1-1 texting will not work while roaming 
  • A text / data plan is required 
  • Sending a text to 911 will take longer than a voice call. Time is critical in a life-threatening emergency, and customers should be aware of this difference 
  • Just like regular text messages, 9-1-1 messages can take longer to receive, can get out of order or may not be received at all 
  • Location information with a text is not equal to calling 9-1-1 at this time 
  • Non-English translation is not available 
  • Group texts, photos and video cannot be sent to 9-1-1 
  • Do not text and drive 
  • Text only for emergencies not for convenience 
  • Your first message should be the location of the emergency and the type of emergency help needed (police, fire, or medical) 
  • Text in simple words - do not use abbreviations or emoticons 
  • Keep your text messages brief and concise 
  • Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions 
  • Photos and videos cannot be sent to 9-1-1 at this time