Frequently Asked Questions

About the Rhode Island 9-1-1 System

What is 9-1-1?

9-1-1 is the fastest and most effective emergency telephone number available. In Rhode Island, a 9-1-1 call is immediately transferred to the appropriate town's police, fire or rescue dispatching center.

What is Enhanced 9-1-1?

Enhanced 9-1-1, often referred to as E 9-1-1, is a system that allows the 9-1-1 Telecommunicator to view the wireline caller's address and telephone number. The information is verified by the Telecommunicator, and the call is forwarded to the appropriate public safety dispatch center. Wireless callers can usually be located through the use of GPS, as well as through the use of other advanced technological resources available to the telecommunicator.

9-1-1 Emergencies

What is considered a 9-1-1 emergency?

A 9-1-1 emergency is defined as an incident, which requires immediate police, fire, or emergency medical attention. NEVER call 9-1-1 for information, directions, directory assistance, or as a prank. However, if in doubt whether questionable situations are indeed emergencies, DO NOT HESITATE to call 9-1-1.

What if I am unable to speak and I need help?

The 9-1-1 system allows the Telecommunicator to "know" where you are calling from if you are using a wireline phone. If you cannot speak - for instance, if you are experiencing a medical emergency or there is an intruder in your home, just dial 9-1-1 and leave the phone off the hook. DO NOT HANG UP. Help will be sent to you.

Using the Rhode Island Enhanced 9-1-1 System

What if I have to report an emergency from a cellular phone?

  1. Know the location of the incident you are reporting and communicate that location clearly. If you are unsure of the location, be prepared to give a street name, route or exit number, or a landmark that will help.
  2. Speak slowly and distinctly.
  3. If you are asked to repeat, please do so. Reception quality is sometimes poor due to topographical or atmospheric conditions that interfere with your transmission.
  4. Be safe and remember to pull over to the side of the road to make your call.

Are 9-1-1 services available to TDD users?

Yes, there are devices for the deaf on line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Rhode Island Relay will also connect deaf and hard-of-hearing callers to 9-1-1.

What if the caller can't speak English?

The Rhode Island E 9-1-1 Emergency Telephone System has Language Line services available for over-the-phone interpretation. Language Line interpreters listen to the speaker, analyze the message and accurately convey the information to the Telecommunicator. Interpretation services are available for 148 of the most commonly spoken languages around the world.