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Tips for Calling 9-1-1 from your Business

  • On October 3, 2022

Written by: Penny Ryan, Safety Trainers


Do you have to dial 9 or another number to get an outside line in your place of business?  Do you allow your employees to use their cell phones during an emergency in the building? Do you have cell service or a “dead zone”? Do you have a procedure for calling 9-1-1 for a work emergency? Did you know you can text 9-1-1 if you are unable to call?  If you accidentally call 9-1-1, what do you do? We have some information to share with you.

Having a procedure in place before an emergency creates better outcomes. Preparing for an emergency before it happens is a component of OSHA’s Federal Code of Regulations. The best way to protect workers is to write a plan and practice it.

Below, we have lots of questions that you can ask your safety committee. These questions will help you write and prepare for the best way to communicate should you need to call 9-1-1.

The first question a dispatcher will ask when call 9-1-1 is, “Where is the location of your emergency?” Make sure you know the address and an exact location on the property or buildings will save you time. You should also send someone to provide access to the building and lead EMS directly to emergency site.

In your policy make sure employees know what to do, who to call and where to go. Who will make the call? The front desk, do the employees call security, do we get the supervisor and they make the call? If you pull a fire alarm, does it automatically notify the fire department or just the alarm company?

If you do not allow cell phones by employee, make sure they know where to find the landline phones.

Do you have to dial any numbers to get an “outside” line prior to dialing 9-1-1? If so, was everyone trained? If you need to hit an extension to call 9-1-1, you should be made aware of Kari’s Law.

Kari’s Law was signed into federal law on February 16, 2018, after a tragic emergency.  Kari Hunt Dunn was killed, and her 9-year-old daughter was unable to reach emergency services because she didn’t know to dial “9” to reach outside lines before dialing 911. At the very minimum you should have stickers on every phone with directions on how to call 9-1-1 if additional steps are needed.

In Massachusetts, you can text 911. Did you know that? You should always call 9-1-1 but if you cannot learn how to text.



When a call rings into a 9-1-1 call center and the caller hangs up either before the dispatcher answers or upon hearing the dispatcher answer, the 9-1-1 system recognizes that the caller has hung up. Once this happens the dispatcher is prompted to call the person back. If there is no answer or it is the call center’s local policy that even if someone does answer, they may dispatch Police and in some instances Fire and EMS as well to check on the wellbeing of the caller.

We ask the public to stay on the line and simply tell the dispatcher that the call was accidental. By doing this, it reduces the time needed to place a call back to the caller and doesn’t tie up valuable resources that may have been dispatched to the caller’s location.

Have a conversation with your safety team. Put a plan together and then practice it.