Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

General Questions  |  Addressing Questions  |  Wireless/Cellular Questions | VoIP Questions | Enterprise Communication Systems Questions


General Questions

Who oversees The State of Vermont’s 9-1-1 system?

The Enhanced 9-1-1 Board.

How is Enhanced 9-1-1 service funded?

Enhanced 9-1-1 is funded through the Vermont Universal Service Fund (VUSF).

Is Enhanced 9-1-1 available in all Vermont communities?

All towns in Vermont have access to Enhanced 9-1-1.

What is a 9-1-1 emergency?

A person should call 9-1-1 when there is an emergency that requires immediate action to save a life, to report a fire, or to stop a crime.

What number do you call for non-emergencies?

For non-emergencies, call the non-emergency 7-digit telephone number for police, fire and ambulance services listed in the white pages of the local telephone book.  You can also obtain this information from your town office or the individual agencies.

Why is Enhanced 9-1-1 needed?

Enhanced 9-1-1 provides the 9-1-1 caller's location, telephone number and emergency service providers are automatically displayed at the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP).   This allows the public safety call takers to quickly send emergency services to the scene.

How will the 9-1-1 call-taker be able to locate me?

Vermont 9-1-1 call-takers are trained to confirm the caller’s location.  It is important to be prepared to provide your location to the best of your ability.  

The Vermont 9-1-1 call-taker is provided automatic location information (ALI) from the service provider.  Depending on the type of service (landline, VoIP, wireless) the accuracy of the location may vary, this why the Vermont 9-1-1 call-takers always verify your location.

Who answers my 9-1-1 calls and how are emergency responders dispatched?

Certified Vermont 9-1-1 call-taker in any one of Vermont’s six Public Safety Answering Points will answer your call. 

The Vermont 9-1-1 call-taker will verify your location and ask appropriate questions to determine the nature of your emergency and will contact all necessary responders.   After the responders have been contacted, the 9-1-1 call-taker may ask additional questions and provide continued assistance.

How do deaf, hard of hearing and speech-impaired persons use Enhanced 9-1-1?

Vermont 9-1-1 is TTY capable and is ADA compliant. Vermont also supports Text to 9-1-1, and can receive calls from video relay services.

If I discontinue service on my residential landline can I still call 9-1-1 from that line?

Possibly for a limited time,  For more information please see the Public Service Board rule for CEA (Continuous Emergency Access).

What is NG911 (Next Generation 9-1-1)?  

NG9-1-1 replaces Enhanced 9-1-1 systems and provides the same functionality but with more features.  NG9-1-1 is an IP based system which provides a foundation of resiliency and the ability to interoperate with emergency entities beyond the Public Safety Answering Points.   NG9-1-1 can accept voice calls, text to 9-1-1, and in the future multimedia such as photos and videos.   As telephone service providers adopt newer technologies, Vermont 911 will be ready to leverage our NG911 system to provide a more efficient and robust experience for our 911 caller.
 

E9-1-1 Compliance and Enterprise Communications Systems (ECS) Information

What is an Enterprise Communications System?

An ECS is defined as any networked communication system serving two or more stations, or living units, within an enterprise.  ECS includes, but is not necessarily limited to, circuit-switched networks (Multi-Line Telephone Systems (MLTS) or Legacy ECS), IP-based systems and cloud-based technology. An enterprise may include, but is not limited to, business entities, governmental agencies or facilities, shared residential facilities, and educational institutions.

Does my school or business use an ECS?

Many schools and businesses in Vermont are using an ECS. Additional information should be requested from the school or business.

What is E9-1-1 Compliance?

Enhanced 9-1-1 compliance means that every telephone connected to an ECS must provide the unique callback number, street address and specific location (i.e. floor# and room#) from which the call originated.  This information must be automatically delivered to the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) when someone dials 9-1-1.

Why is E9-1-1 ECS Compliance so important?

Every second counts in an emergency. A call to 9-1-1 may seem simple, but the information available to call-takers at a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) is crucial. If a school or business ECS is not compliant, and the caller is unable to communicate their precise location to the PSAP, the potential delay in delivering emergency assistance can be dangerous or even life threatening.

Depending on how an ECS is configured, this could result in sending emergency responders to the wrong address or to the correct address but with no specific location information.   Time wasted as emergency responders attempt to locate the source of the emergency can increase danger to your students, faculty, visitors, customers and property.  

How do I find out if my school or business is compliant?

Call your local school/business official to get additional information.   

What if my school or business is unsure about their compliance?

Request that the school/business official contact the Enhanced 9-1-1 Board for help in assessing their compliance.

What are Vermont’s current regulations regarding ECS Compliance?

30 V.S.A §7057 defines compliance.   See the full text of the statute here.

What is Vermont doing to assist schools in becoming E9-1-1 Compliant?

Enhanced 9-1-1 Compliance Grant Program

The Enhanced 9-1-1 Compliance Grant Program was created by Act 160 of the 2016 legislative session. This Building Communities grant is intended to provide financial assistance and incentive to Vermont schools to support the identification and implementation of needed changes to the school’s telecommunications technology so accurate address and location information (i.e., specific call back number, building name/number, floor number, room number, etc.) is provided to Vermont 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency.

The Vermont Enhanced 9-1-1 Board administers this grant program.  The Board expects to open the next application period in September 2018.   All Vermont public schools and independent schools that receive public funds for tuition are eligible to apply.  Additional information will be provided here when specific dates are confirmed.

The Vermont Enhanced 9-1-1 Board updates the status of the school compliance project on a regular basis.  Click here for the latest status report. 

 

If you have any additional questions regarding the school compliance project or ECS compliance requirements, please contact us

Please note:  We are unable to release compliance information about specific schools or businesses.  

 

Addressing Questions

Why is addressing a critical part of 9-1-1?

Correct addressing, assigned in a systematic and logical way, according to the standards of the Vermont 911 Board, helps emergency responders locate you in an emergency.  Addressing in most municipalities is distance-based, so an address number assigned to a structure will tell responders approximately how far along a road they need to travel to reach the scene.  For example, for a municipality that uses the recommended measuring system, the fire department will know that a call for a structure fire at 500 Central Street is approximately one-half mile down the road from the main intersection.

In addition, your 911 address is used to route your 9-1-1 call to the correct public safety answering point, (PSAP), and is associated with the correct emergency responders (Law/Fire/EMS) for that location.  Accurate addressing ensures the call-taker can assist you and send the appropriate responders efficiently and effectively.  

Do communities have the authority to create physical addresses?

Yes. Per Vermont law (30 VSA) and the Enhanced 9-1-1 Board Technical and Operational Standards municipalities must designate an individual responsible for all addressing in their town. Addresses must be assigned by the municipal 9-1-1 coordinator and not the resident or developer.

Why is the town requiring me to change my address?

There are a few reasons that the town may be changing your address:

  • The Vermont E9-1-1 addressing standards require that a private road name be created when there are three or more addresses which share a drive and that they be readdressed off that new drive.
  • Your address was incorrect to start with.
  • The majority of the towns in Vermont are addressed with the recommended distance based addressing standard. When 9-1-1 was first implemented, there were some towns which were “grandfathered” and allowed to keep their initial addressing scheme. Because of new development, new address numbers are sometimes unavailable or out of sequence, resulting in the need to readdress the entire road to comply with VT 9-1-1 addressing standards

If you have any questions regarding addressing, please contact your municipal 9-1-1 coordinator. Find you addressing coordinator here.

What’s the difference between my 9-1-1 physical address and my mailing address?

Your 9-1-1 address is specific to the physical location of your structure and your mailing address is defined by the United States Postal Service (USPS) to deliver your mail.

How do I know if my physical address is in the USPS addressing database?

You will need to contact your local postal authority to confirm your postal address.

How do I have my address added to the USPS addressing Database?

To update the USPS, work with your postmaster and/or your municipal 9-1-1 coordinator.

Why can’t UPS/FEDEX find my location?

UPS, FedEx and many other organizations use the USPS address database. This database is derived from mailing addresses and not necessarily your 9-1-1 physical address. If you do not receive mail at your physical address, or if you receive your mail from a surrounding town’s post office, these organizations may be unable to locate you because your 9-1-1 physical address does not exist in the USPS address database.

How do I check to see if my physical address is in VT 9-1-1 map?

You can check if your physical address is on the VT 9-1-1 map by going to the “Quick E9-1-1Tools” button.    http://e911.vermont.gov/sites/e911/files/image/E911-Quick_Tool.JPG

When your address is not showing on The Vermont Enhanced 9-1-1 Board maps, you can report an error directly from the E9-1-1 Viewer from the Quick E9-1-1 Tools button shown above and follow instructions. 

Or contact your municipal 9-1-1 coordinator and have them submit the address to our office. You can find your municipal 9-1-1 coordinator’s contact information here.

Google, Bing, TomTom or other entities cannot find my address. How do I get these third-party mapping applications to add my address?

Not being on one of these third-party mapping applications does not mean you are not on the 9-1-1 map. To confirm your 9-1-1 address please see the above link at: “How do I check to see if my physical address is in VT E9-1-1 data/map?

When you have a newly assigned address or it has been changed to conform to the Vermont Enhanced 9-1-1 Addressing Standards, the changes are not immediately available for viewing on web-based mapping sites. However, you can submit an update or change to the appropriate vendor by using the following links.

These links are subject to change and there are many other third-party applications that are not listed above. It is recommended to reach out directly to those organizations to correct any issues.

Wireless/Cellular Questions

When I call 9-1-1 from my cell phone will the Vermont 9-1-1 call-taker know where I am?

Cell phones may not give your exact location like a traditional phone does. Try to have your location ready, or use landmarks, mile markers and road signs to describe where you are.

Can I still call 9-1-1 from a cell phone that is out of minutes or does not have current service?

Yes, but if you get disconnected the call-taker is unable to call you back.  

Why is Vermont 9-1-1 contacting me?

Vermont 9-1-1 call-talkers will attempt to contact any caller if there is no voice contact.  The call-taker may attempt to contact you by voice or text.   Sometimes callers are unaware they have placed a call to 9-1-1.  For example, children playing with cell phones, smart watches, pocket dials, and other accidental calls.  

Have you ever heard of the term Non- Service Initialized? 

In the 9-1-1 industry, non-serviced initialized (NSI) refers to a device such as a deactivated cellular phone, or a pendent that can connect you to 9-1-1 without a cellular service plan.  What are the limitations of an NSI device?

1. Location accuracy can vary dependent on device.

2. 9-1-1 will not be able to call you back if you get disconnected.

3. Text to 911 is not available to NSI phones.

What else do I need to know about my NSI device?

1. These are not toys, children can still make a call to 9-1-1.  If you want to let your child play with an NSI device please remove the battery first.

2. Do not hang up, if you accidently call 9-1-1 please stay connected and talk to the call-taker.

3. Know your location, so you can verify or tell the call-taker where you are so that they can assist you more efficiently.

Please be aware of these limitations when purchasing or using a NSI device for your emergency needs.

VoIP Questions

Can I dial 9-1-1 from my VoIP phone?

You can reach emergency assistance by dialing 9-1-1 on most VoIP phones. However, there are important differences between some VoIP 9-1-1 service and traditional 9-1-1 service from a standard phone. Sometimes the 9-1-1 call-taker may not have a display of the number you are calling from or your location. In addition, your call may arrive at a remote private call center if there is confusion over your location.

How do I know what level of 9-1-1 service I have with my VoIP phone?

The best way to find out is to research the features of your VoIP provider as it pertains to 9-1-1 on its web site. Search for "emergency calling." Once you know its features, you should notify all potential phone users, including frequent visitors and babysitters.

How is a VoIP 9-1-1 call routed to the correct 9-1-1 PSAP?

When you sign up for VoIP service, you are asked to register your location. For a 9-1-1 call to go to the right 9-1-1 PSAP, it MUST correspond to the physical location of your VoIP phone. This address allows the VoIP provider to route the call to the right place. You cannot use a PO Box or Rural Route address.

What if my 9-1-1 call is misrouted to the wrong 9-1-1 PSAP?

If your VoIP call is routed to the wrong 9-1-1 PSAP, you should tell the call taker the city or town and state where you need help. The call-taker will likely attempt to transfer your call to the right 9-1-1 PSAP, but it is always a good idea to have the phone numbers of the police, fire and rescue on hand for easy reference.

Does 9-1-1 know where I am when calling from my VoIP phone?

Possibly. No matter where your call routes, the 9-1-1 call taker will first ask you to either provide or verify your location, name, and telephone number. If this information is not available automatically, your call routes to a remote, private call center that will determine where your call needs to go based on the information you provide.

Can I call 9-1-1 from my VoIP phone when I’m traveling?

Some VoIP providers offer the ability to travel with your phone. If so, the provider should offer a way to update your registered address, but you need to be aware that the time it takes to update this address varies greatly.

Do service outages affect my ability to call 9-1-1?

They might. Just as a cordless phone may not work without power, your VoIP phone may not work without power either. As a result, you may be unable to make any calls, including those to 9-1-1, during an electrical outage. Similarly, if your cable or broadband service is interrupted, it may keep you from being able to make outbound calls.

Should I keep my traditional phone line after I subscribe to VoIP service?

Yes. 9-1-1 leaders recommend you keep your traditional phone in addition to your VoIP phone in order to insure you can access 9-1-1 services and have access to a phone in a power or service outage.