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911 Bureau of Emergency Communications

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

Calling 9-1-1

  • Say "9-1-1" When You Call 9-1-1 from a Cell Phone

Why do I have to say 9-1-1 when I’m calling 9-1-1 from a cell phone?

When you call 9-1-1 in Multnomah County, you will be prompted to press a key or say “911” after hearing a brief recorded message.  If there is no response or selection after nine seconds, the call ends.

Why the recording, why not just patch the cell phone caller through? 

Calls to 9-1-1 from cell phones are predominantly how they are received. Use of landline phones are on the decline. Pocket dialing to 9-1-1 remains an issue as mobile devices placed in pockets or purses inadvertently dial 9-1-1, thus creating the need for 9-1-1 calltakers to verify if there is an actual emergency. While education around pocket dialing 9-1-1 has been around for quite some time, it bears repeating.

Should you have to call 9-1-1 in Multnomah County, press any key or say 9-1-1, you will be connected to a calltaker. At this point, say your location and let the calltaker now you have an emergency. Always know your location because not all wireless 9-1-1 calls provide location information. To get help quickly, be ready to answer the following questions:

  • Where is the emergency? (provide address, landmarks, street names, etc.)
  • What happened?
  • What number are you calling from?  Always give your area code and wireless number.
  • What exactly has happened?  Clearly describe what has taken place.
  • If reporting a crime, suspect and vehicle descriptions are important along with direction of travel as to where they have gone.

If using a phone without a service contract and the call is disconnected, you MUST redial 9-1-1!


How Does 9-1-1 Work?

Information about how your call gets to 9-1-1 and what happens next

When to Call 9-1-1

Call 9-1-1 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.

9-1-1 Cell Calls

What to expect when you call 9-1-1 from a cell phone