Director: Marshall G. Mooneyham
In Case of Emergency
Please call 9-1-1 to request ambulance, fire, or police response or go to your nearest emergency room.
For non-emergency situations, please call 678- 406-7929.
DeKalb County E-911 Communications is committed to the delivery of effective and efficient police, fire, and emergency medical services utilizing teamwork, training, and technology.
Departmental Summary – E-911
The DeKalb County E-911 Center serves as the Public Safety Answering Point for unincorporated DeKalb County as well as most of the cities located within the County. The E-911 center is an Accredited Center of Excellence (ACE), by the National Association of Emergency Dispatchers and is responsible for answering both emergency and non-emergency calls for service. The center dispatches Police, Fire-Rescue, Emergency Medical Services, and Sheriff’s Department. The center provides full dispatch services to all of unincorporated DeKalb County and to the cities of Avondale Estates, Clarkston, Lithonia, Pine Lake, Stone Mountain, Stonecrest, and Tucker. The center provides Fire-Rescue dispatch services to the cities of Brookhaven, Chamblee, Decatur (rescue only), Doraville, and Dunwoody. The center also provides Fire-Rescue dispatch services to that portion of Atlanta which lies in DeKalb. The center answers Animal Services phones after normal business hours and on weekends. The center handles more than 1.1 million calls for service per year, over 800,000 of those being 9-1-1 calls. The center is operated 24/7/365 utilizing four (4) teams on twelve hour shifts with a staff of more than 130.
The cities of Chamblee, Decatur, and Doraville operate their own public safety answering points. The cities of Brookhaven and Dunwoody utilize the services of the Chattahoochee River 911 Authority as their public safety answering point.
9-1-1 Cell Phone Dialing
- When calling from a cellular phone your location is not automatically known. Due to E-911 Phase II we are now given the coordinates of your location, but it is still not an exact location.
- You will need to tell the dispatcher the location of the emergency. Provide the street address or the street the emergency is on, along with the closest cross street or intersection.
- Be patient. Cellular calls are sometimes routed to a neighboring agency. This requires you to be transferred to the appropriate agency to help you.
- Stay on the phone until the dispatcher has all the necessary information.
- Be sure to leave your cell phone turned on in case there is a need to call you back.
- Also, remember to lock your keypad; this will prevent accidental calls from your cellular phone to 9-1-1.
9-1-1 Caller Tips
Chances are that you and everyone you know will call for emergency assistance at least once or twice in your lifetime. However, no matter what your emergency is, you will probably experience feelings of anxiety, fear, or loss of control due to the potentially critical situation at hand. This information will hopefully lessen some of the anxiety caused by calling for emergency help by explaining what you, the caller, can expect when dialing an emergency assistance number.
When to Call For Help
Research has shown that the general public—those outside the world of providing emergency services—hesitates in making a call to 9-1-1. People may have difficulty recognizing the signs and symptoms of a medical emergency and feel that the call may be unwarranted. Some people may feel they are imposing on public services. Even those within the emergency services profession may fail to place a call because of underestimating the seriousness of a situation or denying that an emergency actually exists. Anyone can lose precious minutes in the delay of making a call due to concerns over the potential long-term impacts on work, childcare, or finances.
But it is up to you, the caller, to make that first step, to take action even if uncertainty exists or when a person you may feel needs help is actively denying that help is needed.
Remember, never be afraid to dial 9-1-1 because of uncertainty. If you THINK you or someone else is experiencing a medical emergency—call 9-1-1 immediately and let the dispatch center and other emergency service professionals help you. That’s why the service exists—to help you in an emergency situation. Examples of situations demanding immediate attention include:
- Reaction from a snakebite or bee sting
- An allergic reaction of any kind
- A seizure or convulsion
- Jerking movements that cannot be controlled
- Burns covering an area larger than the palm of your hand
- Electrical burn or shock, including lightning strike
- Severe injury or being the victim of trauma or an attack
- Bleeding or spurting blood that you can’t stop
- Not breathing or having difficulty breathing
- Gasping for air or turning blue or purple
- Choking and unable to clear the obstruction
- Unconsciousness, fainting, not alert, or making funny noises
- Chest pains, constricting bands, or crushing discomfort around the chest area—even if the pain stops
- Unusual numbness, tightness, pressure, or aching pain in the chest, neck, jaw, arm, or upper back
What to Expect When You Call 9-1-1
In DeKalb County, a professionally trained emergency call taker will answer your call to 9-1-1. Although the call taker is well aware of the potential for crisis and any associated anxiety you may be experiencing, you must have the composure to answer several questions about the situation and the patient’s medical status. Some of the questions help to determine the level of medical support sent to the scene—emergency service personnel and the type and number of emergency vehicles—while other questions are meant to assist you until emergency assistance arrives. Be ready to give medical information and describe any person (male, female, age, height, description of clothing) or vehicle (color, type, last direction of travel) involved in the incident.
In cases of serious medical problems, such as cardiac arrest, DeKalb call takers are trained to give real-time instruction in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and life-saving first aid. When it looks like a baby may arrive earlier than anticipated, our call takers can assist you over the phone in safely delivering the infant.
All information is taken while a dispatcher simultaneously routes emergency medical service (EMS) professionals to your location. The same applies to giving emergency instructions. Your job, as the caller, is to answer the questions as accurately as possible and to pay particular attention to the call taker’s instructions. Also, since an emergency situation tends to provoke a great deal of anxiety, it’s up to you to remain as calm as possible. Do not argue. Do not lose your patience. Don’t tell the call taker to hurry. They already know that. Every question the call taker asks is important and designed to assist in the most appropriate and timely response to your emergency. The call taker will stay on the line with you as long as the situation dictates. Do not hang up until the call taker says it is okay to hang up. If the connection is lost, for whatever reason, the call taker will try to call you back.
There are other ways you, the caller, can assist. For example, if possible, you should unlock the front door to allow easy access for emergency responders, and put all pets inside a closed room. You may want to turn on the outdoor lights of the residence or business to increase visibility. If outside and aiding a victim of an accident, try to find someone who can flag down the emergency vehicle from a safe distance as it approaches.
Questions to Expect
The call taker will always ask you to say the address of the emergency and your callback number for verification. The call taker will ask you to repeat the address in the interest of accuracy. You must remember that the efficiency of emergency services depends upon the information received, and that includes an address or some way to identify a location that does not have an exact address, such as a railroad crossing, playground, or open field.
After the address and callback telephone number of the emergency have been verified as correct, the call taker will ask you four universal questions. These questions, listed below, are based on the patient’s medical condition and will help to organize and send the assistance required. The questions are:
- The person’s problem or the type of incident (“What’s the problem, tell me exactly what happened?”)
- The person’s approximate age (“How old is s/he?”)
- Whether the person is conscious (“Is s/he conscious?”)
- Whether the person is breathing (“Is s/he breathing?”)
Exchanging this critical information with the call taker typically takes less than 30 seconds. After that, you may be asked to do nothing except wait for help to arrive, or the call taker may tell you to move to a safe environment (in case of a lightning storm or building fire, for example), or to assist in providing emergency care to the ill or injured person until help arrives.
Points to Remember
General 9-1-1 House Rules
- 9-1-1 should be used for emergencies only, including serious medical problems (chest pains), life threatening situations (person with weapons), fires or crimes in progress.
- If you are not sure, call 9-1-1.
- Never be afraid to dial 9-1-1 because of uncertainty.
- If you THINK you or someone else is experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 immediately and let the dispatch center and other emergency service professionals help you.
- Be ready to give medical information and describe any person (male, female, age, height, description of clothing) or vehicle (color, type, last direction of travel) involved in the incident.
- Once help is on its way, make sure the numbers on the outside of the residence where emergency assistance is needed are clearly visible from the roadway day or night.
- If 9-1-1 is called by mistake, do not hang up; stay on the line and tell the dispatcher that everything is all right. If you don’t, the dispatcher may assume that an emergency has occurred and send a response team to your location.
- Talk to children about when and how to call 9-1-1.
- Always teach “nine-one-one” as the emergency number.
- Do not tell children to dial “nine-eleven” since there is no “eleven” on the telephone keypad.
- Remind children not to make false 9-1-1 calls; it is unlawful and can cause a delay in responding to a real emergency.
- Remain calm
- Answer the dispatcher’s questions as accurately as possible
- Pay particular attention to the dispatcher’s instructions and follow instructions carefully
- Do not argue
- Do not lose your patience
- Do not tell the dispatcher to hurry
- Do not hang up until the dispatcher says it is okay to hang up
The National Academies of Emergency Dispatch (NAED)
The American Safety & Health Institute (ASHI)
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I get a recording when I call 9-1-1?
The 9-1-1 system works on an automatic call distribution (ACD) environment. This means that 9-1-1 calls always take priority over non-emergency calls and the call is sent to the first available call taker. If all call takers are on other calls, you will receive the recording letting you know you did reach 9-1-1 and to stay on the line. If you hang up, the call will remain in the queue to be answered and the call taker will still have to call back to determine what’s wrong. If you hang up and dial 911 again your new call is routed to the end of the queue, please stay on the line, don’t hang up.
When I call the non-emergency line, I have to wait sometimes for a call taker to answer. Why?
Employees at the Emergency Communications Center are responsible for answering 9-1-1 and non-emergency calls daily. However, there is a clear focus on answering 9-1-1 calls first. With this in mind, citizens should be aware that significant wait times can occur on the non-emergency line at any time.
Citizens should not hang up and dial 9-1-1 if you cannot get through on the non-emergency line. 9-1-1 should only be used when there is a life-threatening emergency.
The 678- 406-7929 line is available to report a non-emergency situation where police response is requested. This can include reporting a minor traffic accident with no injuries, when a person discovers their car has been broken into, reporting a suspicious person in a neighborhood, and other non-emergency Police and Fire Department matters. An easy way to remember when to use the 678- 406-7929 line is to think “urgency without emergency.”
Citizens seeking general information or a DeKalb department phone number should contact DeKalb County Citizen Help Center at 3-1-1 during regular business hours. DeKalb County Citizen Help Center agents can provide fast answers about DeKalb agencies, their functions and what number to call for assistance.
When should I call 9-1-1 versus 678- 406-7929?
9-1-1 should only be used when there is a life-threatening emergency. This could be medical, fire or police. If there is any danger to someone’s life or situation where the person causing the problem is still around, call 9-1-1. It is best in all medical situations to use 9-1-1.
678- 406-7929 is used for “urgency without emergency.” This can be anything other than a life-threatening situation. Use this number when your car has been broken into, an accident without injuries, or for general questions.
Why do they ask so many questions?
The call takers ask questions based on protocols that help determine what’s wrong and how many responders need to go. The questions that are asked are to protect the public and the first responders. Remember, the call takers work on a Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system and while they are questioning you, they are also entering the information for the dispatcher who is actually the one sending the first responders to you. By answering questions concerning medical conditions or suspect information, you may be able to provide the information needed to get the best response possible. In the case of medical calls, call takers ask very specific questions that allow them to provide pre-arrival instructions, like talking you through CPR, that may help save a life until the first responders arrive.
Who do I call if I feel I didn’t receive appropriate assistance?
We are striving to ensure all employees provide professional assistance to all callers. If you have a complaint, you may contact the E-911 Administrative Commander by phone at 678-406-7959 during business hours or by e-mail at AHGuest@dekalbcountyga.gov. Please provide your contact information for follow up. Your complaint will be investigated and someone will contact you with the results.
DeKalb County E-911 Communications is looking for people who want to make a difference in their community. If you want to know more about the rewarding career opportunities in E-911, please visit our Human Resources Job Page for current available positions. E-911 is an Equal Opportunity Employer.