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911 Bureau of Emergency Communications

Partners in Public Safety. Call 911: Save a Life, Report a Fire, Stop a Crime.

Emergency & Text: 9-1-1

emergency: 503-760-6911

Non-emergency: 503-823-3333

Calling 911

Calling 911 Using a Cell Phone

If you call 911 from a cell phone in Multnomah County, you will reach a recording that will direct you to press any key or speak something at the beep. Once you do this you will be connected to the next available calltaker. This filter is in place to minimize accidental calls to 911 and allows calltakers to remain ready to answer your emergency call. When your call is answered, say your location and let the calltaker know you have an emergency. Remember that not all wireless 911 calls provide location information.


  • It is very important to stay calm and speak clearly.
  • Answer all questions to the best of your ability.
  • Do not hang up until the 911 calltaker has obtained all of the information that is needed and tells you they are terminating the call.
  • Since you are calling from a cell phone, the cell signal could be disrupted and your call may be unintentionally disconnected. Be sure to call back if you are cut off.
  • If you are waiting for your call to be answered, do not hang up. 911 may not be able to call you back if you hang up.
  • When calling 911 from a cell phone, be sure to stop if you are in a moving vehicle. It is difficult to obtain all of the information needed if you are getting further from the emergency.
  • Your call may need to be transferred to another agency. 

Call 911 when it is an emergency which requires immediate response from the police, fire or ambulance. Examples include a crime in progress like a fight, a theft, a shooting, etc; a fire in a commercial building, house or car; or a medical emergency like a heart attack, a stroke or car crash with injuries. If you aren’t sure whether the situation is an emergency, call 911 and the calltaker will determine if you need emergency help. If not, you will be given the appropriate phone number to contact for assistance.

Be Prepared to tell the 911 Calltaker  

  • The location of the emergency (Address, street intersection, landmarks, city, mile marker, etc.) 
  • What the emergency is and what type of assistance is needed 
  • Your cell phone number

If using a phone without a service contract and the call is disconnected, you MUST redial 911!


How Does 911 Work?

Information about how your call gets to a 911 center and what happens next

When to Call 911

Call 911 to stop a crime in progress, report a fire, or call for an ambulance. If the situation is not an emergency, you should call 503-823-3333, the non-emergency number for all of Portland and Multnomah County.

Calling 9-1-1 Flyer

**Updated** Distributed with Art Tax Mailer in March 2017

Frequently Asked Questions

911 Calls from a Cell Phone