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9-1-1 is the 3 digit telephone number designated in the United States as the universal emergency number.
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You should call 911 to report any police, fire, or medical emergency. Non-Emergencies can be reported at 540-344-6681.
A Communications Officer will answer your call and ask you several questions about your emergency. Based on the nature of the emergency, the dispatcher will summon police, fire, or emergency medical response. When you call 911, tell the dispatcher your exact location, or as much information about your location as possible, the nature of the emergency (someone has a gun, my house is on fire, my neighbor collapsed, etc.), how many people are injured, if any, and names and descriptions of the people involved in the emergency. Answering these questions does not delay the response since the dispatcher will enter your situation in the system as soon as basic information such as location is provided.
Answering the additional questions ensures you get the best response to your situation. Adding any conditions which could make the situation unsafe for responding personnel or bystanders (weapons, gas leaks, disabled vehicles, animals, etc.) is beneficial as well.
Stay on the line until the dispatcher hangs up. You may be able to provide the dispatcher with additional information as emergency personnel respond, or the dispatcher may be able to provide you with emergency instructions.
As soon as your call is received, the information is sent to the appropriate agency for dispatching. All calls must be prioritized to insure the safety of the citizens and the responding personnel. Calls that occurred earlier in the day may be held so more urgent calls may be dispatched first.
Some situations are more urgent than others. Most often these calls are calls in progress, such as breaking-and-entering, assaults, and suicide attempts. All calls involving weapons are considered urgent calls and are dispatched immediately. Weapons can consist of objects such as guns, knives, baseball bats, broom handles, bottles, and razors. All weapons pose a threat to citizens as well as the responding personnel. It is very important to tell the dispatcher if a weapon is or was involved in the emergency.
Callers to 911 may request their information not be shared with responding police, fire or medical personnel if this information is not relevant to the emergency. However all calls to 911 are recorded in case they are needed in later investigations and are a matter of public record. Under Virginia law these records are accessible to the public.
Many hang-up 911 calls are made by children playing on the phone. This is especially true with old deactivated cell phones. By law even deactivate cell phones are still able to dial 911. Each time this happens, a 911 dispatcher will try to immediately call the phone back to determine whether or not there is an emergency. If there is no answer on callback, police are dispatched. If there is an answer on callback, the dispatcher will attempt to speak to an adult to insure all is well. We are unable to call back deactivated cell phones back to verify if there is an emergency or not. If you wish to give your child an old cell phone to play with we ask you to remove the batteries so they don't accidentally call 911 and for their own safety.
We ask adults to not punish children who call 911 and hang up, but rather explain to them 911 should only be used in an emergency. If children are punished for accidentally calling 911, it may scare them from ever using it in the future, whether they have a legitimate emergency or not.
Our Community Involvement Team is able to give presentations to groups of children and demonstrate 911 using our simulator. Children can practice calling 911 in a learning environment, both using a home telephone and a coin telephone. They will see a real dispatcher answer their call for help. They also learn what information will be asked of them and why. We explain kids save lives, too. This program has been very successful in day care centers and elementary schools. The simulator is mainly for children, but we do have a program geared for adults as well. We have found elderly adults enjoy learning how the 911 system works as well.
To arrange a demonstration for your group, please contact the E-911 Center at 540-853-5827.
911 only handles emergency medical needs. If you need transportation for a scheduled appointment contact your medical care provider or insurance company to arrange non-emergency transportation.
The Regional Center for Animal Care and Protection maintains a list of pets missing or located and may be reached at 540-344-4922.
In the city, issues with loose or vicious dogs are handled by the Animal Wardens. Call 911 if it is an emergency situation with a vicious dog or 540-344-6681 for non-emergency situations.
The city Animal Wardens have animal traps that can be utilized based on availability and necessity to help capture stray cats. Monitoring the trap and letting the wardens know when they have captured an animal or when they need to be picked up are your responsibility. Call 540-853-5303 or 540-853-2387 to request a trap.
The city Animal Wardens do not handle wild animals unless they are a direct threat to public safety. This means they typically will only deal with domestic animals (cats and dogs). You can contact a licensed trapper or a critter removal service which you can find in your local phone directory. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries offers a Wildlife Conflict Resolution help line at 855-571-9003, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Power and other utility outages should be reported directly to the appropriate utility. You can call Appalachian Power (AEP) at 800-956-4237
If there is an immediate hazard such as a live wire down or electrical fire then you may call 911 to make the area safe, however AEP will still need to respond to fix the electrical problem.
Contact the city Solid Waste Management Office at 540-853-2000 - Option 1. Their webpage, linked below, is also an excellent resource for information.
For other non-emergency request for assistance you can call the city at 853-2000.