Frequently Asked Questions

When should I call 911?

  • 911 is intended for emergencies.  If the situation seems urgent and has the potential to become dangerous, call 911.  If you are unsure if your situation is an emergency, dial 911.  All other calls should be directed to our non-emergency number at 367-7000.

Can I text to 911?

  • This service is not currently available.

What types of incidents should be reported to 911?

  • Any incident that threatens health, life or property should be reported to 911.  Examples include: crimes that are in progress as well as fires or medical problems requiring emergency assistance.

What types of things should not be reported to 911?

  • Any call that is not emergent in nature should be handled on our non-emergency line 367-7000.  Examples include: lost pets, late report such as your car being broken into or your house being vandalized over night.  If you are ever unsure, CALL 911.

What if I’m not sure whether my situation is an emergency or not?

  • If you’re not sure, call 911.  We are trained to determine the severity of situations and send appropriate help.

What if I call 911 accidentally?

  • If you accidentally dial 911, do not hang up.  Stay on the line and answer the dispatchers questions. 

If I call 911, what will they ask me?

  • What is the address you are calling from?
    • If you don’t know the actual address, tell the dispatcher and then give cross streets, or provide nearby landmarks and business names, or look at house numbers in the area.  If you are calling from inside a home or business, look on a piece of mail.  When asked for a location, we need you to be specific. 
  • What is the phone number you’re calling from?
    • This is necessary in case we need to call you back.
  • What is the problem?
    • Tell us exactly what happened. Be as concise as possible. Tell us what the problem is now, not what led up to the problem.

Why do the dispatchers ask so many questions when I call 911?

  • The 911 operator needs to ask questions to determine where the emergency is at and what is happening.  While the questions may seem unnecessary to you, the information is helping the dispatcher make sure they get the correct responders to your location as quickly as possible.  In emergency situations help is often sent while the caller is still on the phone with the dispatcher.

How long do most 911 calls last?

  •  The length of a 911 varies based on the severity and circumstances involved with each situation. 

Can I call 911 from my cell phone?

  • Yes, although wireless calls can present challenges for 911 centers and callers.  With cell phones, your location is not automatically displayed like it is on traditional phones.  If you are not familiar with your exact location, it is crucial that you give as much information about your surroundings as possible.

What should I do if I have a complaint/compliment about the way my call was handled?

  • Complaints and compliments can be handled two ways.  You can either call the non emergency number and ask to speak to the supervisor on duty, or you can click on the following link to provide comments online complaints/commendations.

What if something happens to me and I can’t speak?  How can 911 help me?

  • When you dial 911 from a traditional telephone, one that is wired into a house or other building, the location from which you are calling is displayed on a computer screen.  If you can not speak, either because of a communications impairment, illness or crime in progress, a police officer will be sent to your location to check for any trouble.  If you are ill or being kept from talking by an intruder, leave the telephone off the hook.  Any noise that we can hear will help us determine the most appropriate response.  We will stay on the line until the responders arrive on scene. 

I have a hearing impairment and can not communicate over a regular telephone line.  What should I do if I need help?

  • Every dispatcher at Metro Communications has been trained on the proper use of a TDD.  There is never any need to dial a separate number for TDD calls or to place these calls through a relay service.  If you need help, just dial 911.  Our system is setup to automatically detect TDD calls.

What if the caller does not speak English?

  • Metro employees can get a translator on the line within seconds once the language spoken is identified.  Dispatchers use a service called “Language Line”.  The translator will remain on the line throughout the call to relay information between the caller and the 911 operator.

How do I call in a controlled burn?

  • When you plan to do a controlled burn, please contact us on our non-emergency number 367-7000.  We will ask you for the location, a telephone number you can be reached at and what you will be burning.  The dispatcher will also ask how long you plan to be burning.  Remember that an unsupervised burn is no longer a controlled burn and the fire department may be sent.  When you are done watching your controlled burn, call back into the dispatch center to advise them your burn is complete.

How do I become a 911 dispatcher?

  • You must be prepared for this exciting, challenging, and rewarding career.   Click here to get more information.

What kind of training do 911 operators receive?

  • Click here to learn about Metro Communications extensive training program.

 Are there any other ways to learn more about 911?

  • Tours of the Metro Communications center are available.  Contact us for more information on tours.  Metro Communications also co-hosts a 911 Citizens Academy with the City of Sioux Falls Police Department.  Click here for more information on the Academy.
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