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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 911

Why do I have to say something  when I’m calling 911 from a cell phone?

When you call 911 in Multnomah County, you will be prompted to press any key,  saying “911” or any other word after hearing a brief recorded message.  If there is no response or selection by the caller after nine seconds, the call ends.

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

Calls to 911 are predominantly made from cell phones. Use of landline phones is on the decline. Pocket dialing to 911 remains an issue as mobile devices placed in pockets or purses inadvertently dial 911, thus creating the need for 911 calltakers to verify if there is an actual emergency. While education around pocket dialing 911 has been around for quite some time, it bears repeating.

Should you have to call 911 from a cell phone in Multnomah County, press any key or say "911", you will be connected to a 911 calltaker. At this point, say your location and let the 911 calltaker now you have an emergency. Always know your location because not all wireless 911 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 911!


Calling 9-1-1 Flyer

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

How Does 911 Work?

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

Frequently Asked Questions

911 Calls from a Cell Phone

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.

911 Calls From Cell Phones

What to expect when you call 911 from a cell phone