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Common Questions About 9-1-1

  1. How does 9-1-1 work in Dutchess County?

    9-1-1 is in service for every telephone in both city and rural areas within Dutchess County. When you dial 9-1-1, your call is automatically sent to the County’s 9-1-1 Center at Creek Road in the Town of Hyde Park. The exception is that calls originating from the City of Poughkeepsie will go directly to the City’s Dispatch Center (which is also used as a backup for the County). Additionally, 9-1-1 calls from cell phones currently are directed to the 9-1-1 Center.

    If you need to call 9-1-1 from a pay telephone, there is no charge - just pick up the receiver and dial.

    Upon receipt of a 9-1-1 call, information is automatically displayed on a computer screen that will assist the dispatcher in identifying the address from which the call is being placed. It is vitally important that you stay on the line and tell the 9-1-1 dispatcher what help is needed and where it is needed.
  2. What difference does it make whether I call 9-1-1 or the 7-digit number?

    Dutchess County has an "Enhanced" 9-1-1 system. This means that when you dial 9-1-1 our call-takers will have your name, address and phone number displayed when they answer the phone. This will assist us in making your call quicker and easier to process. This location display is also extremely important in cases where the caller does not know where they are, or cannot speak or give their location due to a medical problem or a variety of other reasons. Our call-takers do not receive this display when the 7-digit numbers are dialed.  
  3. Why do dispatchers ask so many questions?

    This is a very frequently asked question. Our 9-1-1 dispatchers are trained to ask various questions that will assure a timely response to all emergency and service related calls. They are trained to ask questions that will determine the exact nature of the call and that will enable them to provide the responding units with the information they need to properly handle the call and to assure their safety when responding and on the scene. Certain questions must also be asked to provide emergency assistance until responding units can arrive. The caller needs to be patient, answer all questions, and understand that the questions are being asked for a reason.
  4. What should I do if a dispatcher does not immediately answer when I call?

    Stay on the phone and do not hang up unless you are in immediate danger. 9-1-1 calls are routed to the dispatchers in a time queue, meaning that the calls that have been ringing the longest will be answered first. All 9-1-1 callers that hang up are called back using the caller's information received on the operator's screen to verify their status.
  5. What if you don't need a response to your location or it's not an emergency?

    9-1-1 is not for information! You should not use 9-1-1 to get information from one of the emergency services. Instead, call the agency directly. View our list of non-emergency contacts within Dutchess County.
  6. Can the hearing impaired use the 9-1-1 system?

    Yes. The two 9-1-1 Centers are equipped with Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD) that enable communications with the hearing impaired. Dispatchers receive training in the use of TDDs and TDD symbols and jargon.
  7. Does 9-1-1 work from cellular phones?

    Yes. Wireless calls are routed to the 9-1-1 Center the same way as calls from landline phones. Read more about cellular phones and 9-1-1.
  8. When should I teach my child to call 9-1-1?

    Although children have been taught to call 9-1-1 as early as two or three years of age, four to five years is usually the best age. At four or five, children can understand what to do under certain circumstances (e.g. house catches on fire, parent is "asleep and won't wake up," etc.) Use a toy telephone to practice not only calling but explaining the circumstances that may necessitate calling for help. Parents should enforce the rule that children should only call 9-1-1 for emergencies and not for play.
  9. Can I text 9-1-1?
    It is now possible to text 9-1-1 from your cell phone. Read more about cellular phones and 9-1-1 services in Dutchess County.