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TTY, Cell & Internet Phones

TTY/TDD Phones

Communications centers that answer 911 calls have special text telephones for responding to 911 calls from deaf or hearing-impaired callers. If a caller uses a TTY/TDD the caller should:

  • Stay calm, place the phone receiver in the TTY, dial 911.

  • After the call is answered, press the TTY keys several times. This may help shorten the time necessary to respond to the call.

  • Give the call taker time to connect their TTY. If necessary, press the TTY keys again. The 911 call taker should answer and type “GA” for Go Ahead.

  • Tell what is needed – police, fire department, or ambulance. Give your name, phone number and the address where help is needed.

  • Stay on the telephone if it is safe. Answer the call taker’s questions.

If a deaf or hearing/speech impaired caller doesn’t have a TTY/TDD, the caller should call 911 and don’t hang up; keep the line open. With most 911 calls, the caller’s address is displayed on the call taker’s screen and help will be sent.

911 Cell Phones
Video about Cellphones and 911


Cellphones have become such a part of our daily lives, and we can’t imagine what we did without them. As convenient as they are, they sometimes delay emergency responders.

The Aurora911 call center has seen a sharp rise in the use of cellphones. Since 2006, more than 85 percent of the calls coming into a 911 call center are cellphones. Many people use their cellphone as their main source of communications instead of a landline. It is still a good idea to keep a landline for emergencies. Landlines are automatically updated with your latest address, and are still operating when cellphone towers go down or you are out of range.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has taken steps to coordinate emergency services through their Wireless 911 Initiatives. The Basic 911 Rule requires wireless carriers to transmit all 911 calls to a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) regardless of whether the caller subscribes to the carriers service or not. Aurora’s call center is a default PSAP. This allows the dispatcher to know the address of the tower carrying the call along with the facing or approximate direction from the tower of the call’s origin. When a cellphone calls 911, it does not show location of the caller but only the closest tower, and anywhere in an area the size of three football fields. The dispatcher may be able to find your location by using latitude and longitude of the caller’s GPS, but don’t depend on it.

Texting is becoming widely accepted as a form of communications, especially with young people. Although you can text to 911, there are limitations with how it functions. Learn more about Text-to-911 service.

Dispatchers handle many unintentional calls from cellphones each day. Typically, they are cellphones in a purse or pocket that accidentally dial a number. Because the dispatcher does not know whether the call is accidental or the real thing, they will try to make a determination. The dispatcher will attempt to call back and if no one answers they will send emergency personnel. This can divert public safety personnel from responding to real emergencies. Never program 911 into your speed dial keys.

Cellphones give us freedom and mobility. When using your cell phone to call 911 with an emergency, it is important that you give detailed information, correct address or cross streets and stay on the phone with the dispatcher following their instructions.

911 VOIP
Video about VoIP and 911

Voice Over Internet Protocol

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phones allows people to use the Internet to make telephone calls, even worldwide. With high-speed Internet access, VoIP is convenient, quick and inexpensive. VoIP service converts the voice into digital bits that are transmitted over the Internet or a private data network. The bits are converted back into a traditional phone signal just before the call reaches its destination.

If you use VoIP, it is important that you know that 911 calls made from a VoIP phone may not be handled as a 911 call by your local 911 center. In a normal 911 call, information about whom and where you are appears on the operator’s computer screen when they answer the call. Some 911 VoIP providers are not compliant with the 911 system and their calls are routed to the vendor’s call center and then transferred to your local 911 center; if they know who that is. When a 911 call is made from one of these vendors’ VoIP phones, the call is routed as if you had dialed the 10-digit non-emergency phone number for the 911 center. The call will not be answered as an emergency 911 call since it does not come into the center as a 911 call. When answered, the caller will need to be capable of providing the call-taker the address to send help.

Some 911 vendors do connect into the 911 infrastructure but they are not capable of providing the 911 center with your true address or location. These VoIP providers provide the address that you registered when you purchased the VoIP service or last updated your address with their company. The operator who answers the call will have to transfer the call to the proper police or fire agency, which could be in a different state or area of the county. Expect delays to occur in making these transfers.

For more information on Voice over Internet Protocol, visit the Federal Communications Commission website or the VoIP website.

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