Mahaska County Courthouse

911 Communications: When to Call 911

911 can save your life or the life of a loved one. Fire, law enforcement and ambulance logs are filled with incidents where people have helped save lives and property by dialing 9-1-1.

911 is simplifying our lives, protecting us in emergencies and providing opportunities to help others in need. 9-1-1 is available through most of the U.S. as a means to easily report any emergency without looking up other telephone numbers.

Unfortunately, 911 systems can at times be abused and overloaded. There are many instances where 9-1-1 was dialed as a joke, to ask for information or to report a nuisance. In some areas of the country, these examples account for the majority of 911 calls. Please remember, dialing 9-1-1 is for an emergency and is serious. Calling unnecessarily can endanger someone else's life or property when they really do need help.

When should you call 911?

  • You witness or are the victim of a serious crime.
  • You smell smoke or see uncontrolled fire.
  • You witness or are involved in a serious accident.
  • There is an emergency illness, injury or suspected poisoning.
  • When a child / senior citizen / handicapped person is lost, confused, frightened, or needs special assistance
  • There is any situation that is potentially dangerous and you are not sure who to call.

What should I do if there's a fire in my home?

  • Do not use your home telephone to call.
  • Stay low and get out of your house immediately.
  • Call from your neighbor's house or from a pay phone.
  • Remember, you can call 911 from a pay phone and the call is free.

When calling 911, remember to give the following information:

  • The phone number you are calling from.
  • Your name.
  • Your address.
  • What your problem or situation is.
  • Be calm. Speak clearly and remain on the line to answer all the dispatcher's questions as best you can.

Don't call 911 to:

  • Ask for a phone number you can't find in the book
  • Inquire if a particular business or park is open
  • Ask the cost of overnight fees at area campgrounds
  • Complain about a barking dog
  • Request a copy of an accident report