April is officially National 911 Month, and public health authorities and emergency responders hope to use this time in the spotlight to increase public awareness about the 911 system and ensure that people understand which scenarios warrant the call. To that end, below we’ve compiled a quick primer — a snapshot of what you need to know.
When to Call 9-1-1
In general, you should only use 911 in situations that involve a threat to a person’s life or property – emergencies that require immediate help from an ambulance, fire department or police department. In instances when you are in doubt about whether an event poses an imminent peril, 911.org recommends calling the number to be safe. Here are more specific guidelines. Call in the event of the following:
- Medical emergencies – i.e. injuries, illnesses or medical conditions that could result in the loss of life or limb if untreated immediately. These include poisoning, drowning, chest pain, choking, sudden intense pain, severe burns, difficulty speaking or a suicide attempt.
- Any fire, even a small grease fire in your kitchen, necessitates a call because it can spread rapidly.
- Car crash injuries justify a call if a victim reports feeling dizzy or unwell.
- Serious or potentially serious sports-related injuries require immediate attention. Kids are particularly at risk. (See Teaching Kids How to Avoid Sports-Related Head Injuries)
- Noticing a suspicious person or witnessing a crime of assault or burglary merits a call.
When Not to Call 9-1-1
Don’t hesitate to call 9-1-1 for any emergency; however, don’t use the number for non-emergencies, because you could tie up the lines and delay help for people who desperately need it. Refrain from using the number to get information or to ask for a ride to a doctor’s appointment. In addition, don’t dial 9-1-1 to report a power outage, broken fire hydrant or water pipe rupture.
Once the accident or event has been controlled, if you believe that someone or some organization contributed to the injury, consider calling a qualified attorney at your earliest convenience. Call our experienced Washington D.C. personal injury attorneys for insight into your recent accident to determine whether you might be entitled to substantial compensation.