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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 9-1-1 From A Cell Phone

If you dial 9-1-1 from a cell phone in Multnomah County, you will reach a recording that will direct you to press any key, at any time, or say "HELP" after the beep.  Once you have either pressed a key or said HELP, your call will be forwarded to the 9-1-1 call queue with the Bureau of Emergency Communications (BOEC) and will be answered, in the order it was received, by the next available Calltaker.  We refer to this process as a Pocket Dial Filter and the purpose is to minimize accidental calls to 9-1-1, which allows our Calltakers to remain ready to answer your emergency call.

A large percentage of incoming calls are accidental and are considered to be "pocket dial" calls.  Often times, the caller is not even aware that their cell phone dialed 9-1-1.  We refer to this as a Pocket Dial Call, which requires a 9-1-1 Calltaker to attempt to call the number back to ascertain whether help is needed.  As you can imagine, a lot of time is spent calling back on these types of calls.  BOEC began using this technology in 2004 to reduce the number of unintentional wireless 9-1-1 calls. 

If your cell phone dials 9-1-1 and you hang up, there is a good chance the call still went through to the call center.  This means a 9-1-1 Calltaker will be notified that a call came from your cell phone number.  The Calltaker will then attempt to call you back to ascertain whether you have an emergency or not.  There are times when these types of calls do not make it to the 9-1-1 center so do not hang up.

Roughly 87% of all 9-1-1 calls in Multnomah County are made from cell phones.  Cell phone calls provide 9-1-1 Calltakers with your phone number and an approximate location of where your call is coming from.  Location accuracy can vary from 50 to 300 meters in any direction and in some cases, no location is received.  Cell phone calls are routed based on a triangulation of the nearby cell towers.  As a result, you may end up calling the wrong 9-1-1 center.  The Calltaker you speak with should be able to transfer you to the appropriate 9-1-1 center.

Cell service is unpredictable and your call may be disrupted abruptly.  If this happens, dial 9-1-1 immediately.  If you are using an old cell phone that does not have service, we are unable to call you back.  You MUST dial 9-1-1 again.  When dialing 9-1-1 from a cell phone while driving, be sure to stop your vehicle if it is safe to do so.  It is difficult to obtain the necessary information if you are moving further away from the emergency.  If you are being followed or chased, be sure to stay in the area so responding officers can find you.  Consider driving around the block.  The 9-1-1 Calltaker can help coordinate the officers locating you.

When in a public area, be aware of those around you who may be calling 9-1-1 to report the same incident as you.  9-1-1 can get inundated with calls reporting the same situation.  If you know someone else is calling 9-1-1, do not call yourself unless you have additional information that no one else has.  If possible, coordinate with the other caller to let you talk with the 9-1-1 Calltaker when they are finished.  When 9-1-1 is inundated with calls reporting the same incident (e.g., an injury accident on the freeway, a fight in a public location, etc.), other callers to 9-1-1 may have to wait on hold to report their own unrelated emergency incident.