What you need to know about 911

When should I call 911?

911 is for emergencies or things that could become emergencies.
  • Is there a threat to life or property?
  • Are you or someone else the victim of a crime that just occurred or in progress?
  • Do you have a police emergency?
  • Do you or someone else have a medical emergency?
  • Do you need the fire department?
If the situation seems urgent and has the potential to become dangerous, call 911. Dispatchers will determine whether your call should be handled by 911 or can be transferred to another person or agency. All other calls should be directed to our non-emergency number: 642-6006 , the extension for dispatch is 0.
What if I call 911 accidentally?
If you accidentally dial 911, do not hang up. Stay on the line and tell the dispatcher that everything is alright. If you don't, the dispatcher may think that something is wrong and send a police officer to check.
Why do the dispatchers ask so many question when I call 911?
Emergency dispatchers need to get accurate information to allow officers to make the best decision on how to approach the situation. Dispatchers handling fire and paramedic calls must also consider the well-being of the public and the safety of the firefighters and paramedics. Callers will be asked:
  • Where
  • What
  • Who
  • When
  • (maybe) Why
The information you provide a dispatcher is relayed to responding officers, paramedics or firefighters while they are on their way to the call.
If I call 911, what will they ask me?
1. What is the location of the emergency?
This is the address where the emergency is actually happening. If you don't know the actual address, tell the dispatcher and then:
  • Give cross streets or a "hundred block."
  • Provide landmarks, business names or parks near the emergency.
  • Look at the 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.

Advise the dispatcher where the emergency is occurring.

Doesn’t my address show up when I call 911?
We have enhanced 911 in Payette County, but the dispatcher will still confirm your address to make sure what the computer is showing us is an accurate location for you if the emergency is at the location of where you are calling from.
If you are calling from a cell phone, the address does not come up. We may get latitude and longitude location for you as the caller if your phone call hits the tower correctly otherwise it only shows the location of the cell that your cellular call bounced off of.
If you are asked to describe a suspect, start with the most obvious things.
Some examples are:
  • "He was a white male."
  • "He/she had a gun."
  • "He/she was at least 6 feet tall."
  • "He/she was wearing a bright red jacket."
  • "He had a long brown beard."
If the suspect just left (such as a theft suspect), we need to know which way that suspect went and a description of how he looked.
If you describe a vehicle, include:
  • License plate information, including the state.
  • Color.
  • Year. (If unknown, tell the dispatcher if it was a new or old vehicle.)
  • Make. (Was it a Honda? Nissan? Ford?)
  • Body style. (Was it a 4-door? Hatchback? Pick-up truck?)
  • Other things you may remember about it.
Do not be afraid to use general descriptions of a vehicle. You may not know the Make and Model of a vehicle, but you can usually tell the dispatcher the color, if it had two or four doors, approximate age, etc. The dispatchers are trained to ask you specific questions to help you give descriptions.
2. What is the phone number you're calling from?
This is the number to the phone you're actually calling from. We need this in case we have to call you back.
3. What is the problem?
Tell us exactly what happened. Be as short and concise as possible. Tell us what the problem is now, not what led up to the problem.
  • "I see a fight on the corner of 2nd and Main."
  • "I am fighting with my husband."
  • "There is a car accident westbound on I-84 at the Fruitland off-ramp."

    We also need to know if you're going to be at, or near, the scene when we arrive because the police may need to talk to you, or you may need to point out the exact location. We may ask you what kind of car you are in, or what color clothing you are wearing.
Why do the dispatchers ask so many questions?
Two dispatchers sometimes are handling a medical call. While one dispatcher is asking very specific questions, the other dispatcher is already sending out an ambulance. You will be asked a series of questions that will help determine the response of paramedics to the call. The paramedics will be better prepared to help the patient with the information you have provided.
If one dispatcher is working alone they are sometimes wearing a headset and you won’t hear them for a moment while they are dispatching. So if the phone suddenly sounds quiet on their end, please be patient for them to answer you. They can still hear what you are saying during that time.
They will ask things like:
  • What is the location of the emergency? (Where are the paramedics needed?)
  • Tell me exactly what is happening (with the patient right now).
  • How old is the patient? (If you don't know, say so and then give a guess of the age.)
  • Is the patient conscious and breathing?
The dispatcher may provide you with some instructions for keeping the patient safe and comfortable until the paramedics arrive. Follow the instructions given to you by the dispatcher.
If I call to report a fire, what should I tell the dispatcher?
You should be prepared to answer questions like these:
  • Where is the fire?
  • What is on fire?
  • How large is the fire? (This is a only an estimate, think about the size of the fire in relation to something common: the size of a living room, the size of a football field, bigger than a grocery store parking lot.)
  • Are any structures threatened? Are there flames moving close to any homes or buildings?
  • Do you know if anyone is inside the housing or building?
  • Do you know if anyone is hurt?
While you are answering these questions, the dispatcher or the dispatcher's partner is setting off the bells at the appropriate fire stations and getting help on the way.
When I call 911, why do I get asked to hold on?
The same dispatchers who answer the 911 calls also answer other 911 calls, radio traffic and the non-emergency calls for service for all law enforcement agencies in Payette County. When the dispatch center is busy, the dispatchers have to ask non-emergency callers to hold on while they answer the 911 calls. Every effort is made to get back to you as quickly as possible, and your patience and understanding is appreciated.
Can any phone, even disconnected cell phones call 911?
The answer is YES! Please do not give an old phone to a child as a toy. If they call 911, it can waste many valuable resources trying to locate you to see if you have an emergency.
Local Emergency Contacts in Payette County
Dial 9-1-1 to report emergencies from regular telephone lines and cellular phones.
If you cannot call, you can text 911. Your location will not show up, so be prepared to answer the dispatchers’ questions by text.
  • Text 2 911 is designed so that individuals who are unable or do not feel it is safe enough to make a phone call to 911 can still contact emergency personnel for assistance.
  • Do not use Text 2 911 if you are driving or if you can place a phone call, there is always a chance the text message may not be received or could be delayed. Make sure to send messages with as much detail as possible including the address, type of emergency and all relevant information necessary for emergency personnel. If you do utilize Text 2 911 make sure you stay close to your phone until responders reach you and that you answer all instructions given and questions asked by the 911 dispatcher.
Call if you can, Text if you can’t.
Local Non Emergency Contact Information
If the call is non emergent, you can contact the dispatch center at Payette County Sheriff's Office by dialing the following number:
Dispatch (Payette County) (208) 642-6006 extension (0)
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