9-1-1 Call-Takers and Telecommunicators are available 24/7/365 to answer your calls for assistance. It is important to know that there are certain times when it may not be appropriate to use 9-1-1, but rather the ten-digit number to request police, fire, EMS, or other public organizations. The material below provides information on when and when not to use the 9-1-1 number and also information you will be asked if you call 9-1-1.
When should I call 9-1-1?
9-1-1 should only be used for emergencies. This includes instances such as:
- Any life-threatening situation such as fights, major vehicle accidents, assaults;
- An immediate fear for your personal safety;
- Any crime in progress such as burglary, robbery, or theft;
- Any type of fire; or
- Any serious medical problem that requires an ambulance.
If you require emergency services that does not meet one of the situations described above, please use our 10-digit number 610-655-4911.
When to call the 10-Digit number (610-655-4911)
- A noise complaint
- Lost or found dogs
- A parking violation
- Property damage from an accident
What will they ask me when I call 9-1-1?
The first question that will be asked is "Where is your emergency?" Be prepared to offer the following information:
Describe to the call-taker what your emergency is:
- The complete address (including municipality) of where the emergency is. If you do not know what municipality you live in, click here to find out.
- Is the address a house or apartment? If it is an apartment building, be sure to tell the call-taker the apartment number.
- If you are calling from a business or commercial property, provide the business name and/or suite and what entrance they should use to access the patient.
- Do you need police, fire, or EMS?
- What is the nature of your emergency?
- If the call is medical in nature, they will provide emergency medical directions to you that will help provide assistance to the patient. Also, be prepared to offer pertinent and recent medical information that caused you to call 9-1-1.
- If the call involves a crime in progress, give as much information as possible to the telecommunicator (vehicle description, physical description of actor(s)). Think about "Who, what, when, where, and why" when describing the incident.
While on the phone with the telecommunicator, remember the following:
- Remain calm and speak clearly;
- Let the telecommunicator ask the questions;
- If the call requires transfer to another agency, stay on the line. You may hear a series of clicks as the transfer occurs; and
- Understand that if the 9-1-1 center is busy, you may hear a recording that all personnel are busy; DO NOT HANG UP. REMAIN ON THE LINE. Calls are answered in the order in which they are received in the queue. Hanging up and calling back will only place your call at the end of the queue.
What if I inadvertently Dial 9-1-1? DO NOT HANG UP
Stay on the phone and advise the telecommunicator that you mistakenly dialed 9-1-1 and do not have an emergency.
If a 9-1-1 call is disconnected, the telecommunicator will attempt to call the number back to ensure there is not an emergency.
What if I need assistance that does not require police, fire or EMS?
If you require other assistance that is not an emergency, Berks County residents can call 2-1-1 which can help with requests for the following:
- Child care;
- Food banks;
- Elderly care;
- Basic needs;
- Health services
Other Important Information
Many police departments will forward their phones to the Berks County 9-1-1 Center when they are out on patrol. When calling their number, if the phone is answered as "Berks County DES How May I Help You", be prepared to tell the call-taker what police department you are calling for.
If you are looking for a specific officer, please note that we do not have the police department's schedule. We can determine if the officer is currently on duty, however if not, we cannot take messages for individual officers.
Know what municipality you live in. A municipality is different from your mailing address. You may have a mailing address of Reading, PA 19606, but your residence is in Exeter Township.
Please DO NOT CALL 911 for situations where you lose power at your residence or business. We cannot assist in situations like this and recommend that you contact your power company for information.