Montgomery County Emergency Services Frequently Asked Questions
Q: When should I call 911?
A: Any emergency requiring an immediate Fire Department, Ambulance, or Law Enforcement Officer response is reason to call 911.
Q: When shouldn't I call 911?
A: Incidents not requiring an immediate response from a Fire Department, Ambulance, or Law Enforcement Officer are better handled by calling a non-emergency number.
Q: Why do I always have to answer a bunch of questions about where I am and what my phone number is when I call 911? Doesn't your computer tell you that?
A: 911 telecommunicators cannot send you help if they don't know where you are and what's going on. Although the phone number and address provided by the 911 computer are nearly always correct, even computers make mistakes. That is why the telecommunicator must confirm that information by asking the caller. Also, many times callers are requesting help at a location other than the one they are calling from. Obviously, if help gets sent to the wrong location, there will be a delay in getting help to the person in need at the correct location. That delay might simply be inconvenient, but it also could mean the difference between life and death.
Q: When all I want is an ambulance, why do I have to answer a bunch of medical questions? I'm not a doctor.
A: Montgomery County's 911 telecommunicators are certified Emergency Medical Dispatchers (EMD). As EMDs, they are required to ask you medical questions, both to provide information to the responding paramedics and to offer instructions to you over the phone, when necessary. When you answer those questions to the best of your ability, they move along much more quickly than when you argue with the dispatcher about them. If you are the patient, the EMD can stay on the line with you, offering help and keeping the responding paramedics updated by radio while they are on the way. If you are not the patient, the EMD can provide you with instructions, such as how to perform CPR or the Heimlich Maneuver, that might make the difference between whether or not the patient even stays alive until the paramedics arrive.
Q: If my water pipes break, should I call 911? It's an emergency, isn't it?
A: Although broken pipes or water leaks are something you certainly want to get fixed as soon as possible, none of the agencies dispatched by 911 provide that service. You need to call a plumber, and we cannot tell you what plumber to call.
Q: Why shouldn't I call 911 when my power goes out? I don't like just leaving a message on the power company's answering machine. I want to talk to a real person.
A: When you call a power company's outage reporting line and leave a message about your power being off, automated location equipment similar to that used in 911 records your account information based upon your address and phone number. So even when all you can do is leave a message, you are also leaving valuable location information to help the power company find where the problem is. The power company uses that information, regardless of whether or not you actually spoke to anyone, to plot your location in its power grid. The problem is often somewhere other than your house, and this information helps them go directly to the source of the problem. So if you call 911, and a 911 telecommunicator calls in your service request for you, the power company gets the location of the 911 center, not your house. Then that information has to be verbally collected and manually recorded into the power company database. The final result is a slower response than you would have gotten if you had used the automated system in the first place.
Q: Which fire department serves my home?
A: Download this fire district map.