How 9-1-1 Works

Every 9-1-1 system is unique to the area which it serves however, there are generally two types of systems, "Basic 9-1-1" and "Enhanced 9-1-1". Colbert County is fortunate to have the Enhanced system. Contrary to popular belief, the "E" in "E 9-1-1" comes from the word "enhanced" and and not from "Emergency".

The Enhanced 9-1-1 System basically works the following way:

First, a caller dials the three digit emergency number 9-1-1.

The telephone company then routes the call to a designated Public Safety Answering Point or "PSAP", based on where the caller's address is located.

When the call reaches the PSAP, the caller's location information is displayed on a computer monitor and a trained telecommunicator begins to process the call by verifying the location of its origin.

  • For cellular calls from older handsets or smaller companies, the location is at least the location of the cellular tower.
  • Newer handsets on advanced cellular systems, the exact location of the handset is displayed.
  • Voice Over IP "VoIP" services are still in their infancy and some providers do not yet have the capability to provide enhanced 9-1-1 service for their customers. Companies who have developed their system further can provide the same enhanced 9-1-1 service as regular "wired" telephone companies.

Upon determining the nature of the call, the telecommunicator dispatches the appropriate agency to the emergency while continuing any emergency instructions to the caller.