Calling 911: What You Need To Know

  • Oct 21, 2010
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When calling 911 in an emergency, every second can be crucial – especially for people who are deaf or hard of hearing and may find it difficult to quickly communicate their message. To address this, the FCC has introduced some simple regulations and procedures to ensure that people who are deaf and hard of hearing can place 911 calls quickly and efficiently. No matter what type of telephone or device you use to make telephone calls, become familiar with the procedures below and save yourself precious time in the event of an actual emergency.

CapTel 200 and CapTel 800

If you call 911 from a single-line CapTel 200 or CapTel 800 phone, in order to process your call more quickly, your call will be sent directly to your local 911 center instead of through the captioning service. Your call will be treated as a Voice Carry Over (VCO) call, meaning the 911 operator will be able to hear everything you say and will type responses back to you that will appear on your CapTel display screen.

Lift the receiver just as you would for any other call and dial 911. You will see the light on the “caption” button go out. When the 911 operator answers, speak into the receiver as you would on any other call. The 911 operator will hear everything you say, but you may not be able to hear the operator. If you cannot hear and need captions, press either the button next to the message on your screen (on the CapTel 200) or the “Yes” button below your screen (on the CapTel 800). The 911 operator will instantly receive a text message stating that you need captions. The operator will then type their instructions to you and they will appear on your CapTel display screen. Be aware that the operator may not be able to hear you while they are typing. When you hang up with 911, your CapTel 200 or CapTel 800 phone will stay in VCO mode in case 911 needs to call you back. To turn your captions back on, just press the “Caption” button.

To see a 911 call being made from a CapTel 200, click here:

To see a 911 call being made from a CapTel 800, click here:

CapTel 800i or 2-line CapTel

If you are calling 911 from a CapTel 800i or a 2-line CapTel (2-line meaning that you are connected to two different phone lines), your call will function just like any other CapTel call. You can speak into the receiver and the 911 operator will hear you. The 911 operator will speak back to you and the captions will appear on your display screen. To see a 911 call placed from a 2-line CapTel phone, click here:

Text Telephone (TTY)

When you call 911 from a regular telephone land line using a TTY, your call will automatically connect to a 911 call center and your address and phone number will appear on the computer screen of the 911 operator, even if you don’t type or say anything. If calling from a wireless phone however, you will need to provide the 911 operator with your location.

VRS/IP Relay

Under the FCC’s emergency call handling rules, VRS and IP Relay users can make an emergency call directly through their default Relay service provider to a 911 center. Just dial 911 as you would dial any other phone number and you will be connected to a 911 operator. Emergency 911 calls made through VRS or IP Relay receive priority attention over all other non-emergency calls and are answered by the first available 911 operator. If you have registered your 10-digit phone number and physical location information with your service provider (see below), the 911 operator will automatically receive this information when they answer your call and you will not have to relay it.

Don’t forget to register your 10-digit phone number and location!

For IP and VRS users, you must register your 10-digit phone number along with your up-to-date and accurate physical location information with your default Relay service provider. This will ensure that whenever you call 911, the 911 operator will instantly know your physical location and will be able to dispatch help to you as quickly as possible. Please remember to update your location information with your provider any time you move or change locations, whether it is from one apartment to another within the same complex or if you are moving across town.

Prepare yourself for an emergency situation by familiarizing yourself with these procedures. In any emergency, always remember to stay calm and make sure to keep your registered location information up to date with your current service provider.

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