Helpful Tips

Sooner or later it will probably happen to you: an inevitable emergency will occur, and you'll need an ambulance, fire equipment or a police officer. How do you contact the right person? Just dial 911 from the nearest telephone.

Do not waste precious seconds by calling your local fire or police station. You will get a much quicker response to your emergency needs by dialing 911, for both Voice and TTY.

Please remember that 911 is only for emergencies. For routine questions or non-emergency situations in Caldwell County, dial 828-758-2324. To report road hazards or ask a road-related question 24 / 7, dial 511 to connect you to NCDOT.

  • More information about NCDOT 511
  • Current traffic conditions in the State of North Carolina, including this region and county

By dialing 911 in the Caldwell County area, your call will automatically be routed to the appropriate Emergency Operations Center. When your call is received, highly trained personnel are ready to respond with assistance and will get you the help you need. Learn how to properly use them!


  • Stay calm - dispatchers can't help you if they can't understand you. Take a deep breath and think before you talk. Speak slowly and clearly.
  • Know your location and tell the dispatcher the exact address (apartment/suite number, intersection, interstate mile markers) where the help is needed.
  • Tell the dispatcher your phone number in case you are disconnected.
  • State the nature of the emergency. Stay on the line to answer further questions the dispatcher may have (Emergency Medical Dispatch).
  • Send someone to meet the emergency equipment if at all possible. It's hard to find an address on a dimly lit street in the middle of the night.
  • Teach your children how to call 911. Be sure they know what 911 is, can dial from your home and cell phone, and trust the 911 call taker. Make sure they are physically able to reach at least one phone in your home. When calling 911, your children need to know their name, parent's name, telephone number and especially their address. Tell them to answer all the dispatcher's questions and stay on the phone until they're told to hang up.
  • If you call 911 even by mistake, do not hang up the phone. If you call by accident, stay on the line until you can tell the call taker that there is no emergency, so the call taker doesn't have to waste time calling you back or sending police with lights and sirens to check your address for an emergency.
  • Prevent prank calls to 911. Prank calls not only waste time; they are illegal in most states and endanger public safety. If 911 lines or call takers are busy with prank calls, someone with a real emergency may not be able to get the help they need. Be sure all members of your household are aware that prank or harassing calls to 911 will be dealt with by local law enforcement agencies.

More Tips and Best Practices for Helping 911 Help You & Your Fellow Citizens

  1. Never throw away a cell phone
    1. They contain toxic materials such as lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, beryllium, lithium or antimony that will poison our communities; and,
    2. Old cell phones can save lives because Federal regulations (CFR Title 47, 20.18, b.) require that even deactivated cell phones with no service contract must still be able to dial 911! This means that you can
      1. Keep it charged and in a safe place in your car or home so you have the ability to call 911 in an emergency if your active phone is stolen or damaged - it can save your life
      2. Donate it to a domestic violence organization in your area. Typically, the perpetrator of domestic violence first removes the victim's ability to call for help. Having a hidden cell phone that can only dial 911 could save this person's life.
    3. You can also turn in old cell phones to Sprint Project Connect (who will recycle them and turn the net proceeds into supporting a website promoting online safety for kids), Verizon's HopeLine program which supports victims of domestic violence, or AT&T's Cell Phones for Soldiers, an initiative that uses funds from recycled cell phone to buy prepaid phone cards for active duty military members.
  2. Never let a child play with a cell phone without first removing the battery
    1. Even deactivated cell phones can and do call 911. When your child presses the buttons (just like Mom and Dad) the phone will call 911 and an operator may hear crying, screaming, the TV, or nothing, but must still make every effort to try to determine if there is a real emergency. We can't call these phones back because they show up on our screens as a 911 area code, so all we can do is wonder what is going on and where.
    2. Active phones require 911 Operators to take the time to call these phones back if we can't speak to someone on the first call. Some police departments dispatch officers to these calls if they can determine the location it came from.
  3. Eliminate "pocket dialing" where the emergency button is accidentally pressed while the phone is in the owner's pocket, purse or bra
    1. When buying a new cell phone, find out if it has been pre-programmed for one-button dialing. If so, either have the retailer remove this feature, or buy another model
    2. Reprogram your current phone so that it can not dial 911 by pressing just one button (instructions should be in your manual or available online)
    3. Keep the phone in a case or cover that prevents pocket dialing
  4. If you dial 911 by mistake, stay on the line
    1. Even if you do not hear it ring, it probably went through to us. If you hang up, we have to call you back. If you do not answer, a number of agencies will then dispatch an officer to see if you are all right. This wastes not only the time of the 911 operator but also patrol officers.
    2. Everyone makes mistakes. Don't be embarrassed—just stay on and tell us it was a mistake.

If you follow these simple steps, you will help the environment and save lives. The bottom line is that the time 911 operators spend on false, abandoned, or phantom 911 calls is time that someone with a real life-threatening emergency may be on hold, and seconds count in saving lives.