Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

General Questions  |  Addressing Questions  |  Wireless/Cellular Questions | VoIP Questions

General Questions

What agency directs the development of Enhanced 9-1-1 service?

The Enhanced 9-1-1 Board.

What happens if I call 9-1-1 and there is a busy signal?

You should contact your emergency service provider using their 7-digit telephone number.

How is Enhanced 9-1-1 service funded?

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

What is a 9-1-1 emergency?

A 9-1-1 emergency is when police, fire or medical services are needed right away in order to save a life, report a fire or 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.

Why is Enhanced 9-1-1 needed?

Enhanced 9-1-1 is a lifesaving public safety service. The system helps identify the 9-1-1 caller's address and allows the public safety call takers to quickly send emergency services to the scene.

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

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

What is the key benefit of Enhanced 9-1-1?

In most cases a 9-1-1 caller's location, telephone number and emergency service providers are automatically displayed at the public safety answering point (PSAP).

Will emergency responders be able to find me?

Enhanced 9-1-1's addressing feature for landline telephones helps call-takers to locate the caller and dispatch emergency services quickly to the scene. Call-takers will always try to confirm the location of the emergency.

Will emergency responders be able to find me if I call from a cell phone?

Possibly; please see the information below under Wireless/Cellular Questions.

Under Enhanced 9-1-1, who answers my 9-1-1 calls and how are emergency responders dispatched?

Your 9-1-1 call will be answered in any one of Vermont’s six Public Safety Answering Points, known as PSAPs.
The 9-1-1 call-taker who answers your call will assess your needs and will contact the necessary emergency

When should a caller use 9-1-1?

A person should only 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. For non-emergencies the public should call the telephone number for police, fire and EMS in the white pages of their local phone book.

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

Enhanced 9-1-1 equipment has TTY capability and is ADA compliant. If the equipment detects TTY tones, it will automatically switch to TTY mode and immediately send out a greeting to the caller. The equipment can be manually switched to TTY mode with a keystroke, which facilitates the testing of silent calls.  In addition, Vermont has Text to 9-1-1 capabilities for callers using Verizon Wireless, AT&T, T-Mobile or Sprint.

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

In most cases yes.  Please see the Public Service Board rule for CEA (Continuous Emergency Access).

Addressing Questions

Street signs keep disappearing in my town, what can I do?

Theft of street signs is against the law and is a problem in many communities. They are a vital part of the 9-1-1 system, as they allow responders to find callers faster. If you see someone stealing or vandalizing signs, call 9-1-1.
Why is addressing a critical part of Enhanced 9-1-1?

Any time anyone anywhere in Vermont dials 9-1-1 from a land line phone, a call taker should see on his or her screen the address and telephone number of the caller. This means that even if the caller is not familiar with his or her location, can not speak, or the call is disconnected, the call taker will know the location of the caller.

Do communities have the authority to create physical addresses?

Per Statute 30 VSA, municipalities choosing to participate shall identify all building locations and other public and private locations frequented by the public and shall cooperate in the development and maintenance of the necessary databases. All Vermont towns participate in the Vermont Enhanced 9-1-1 system.

What happens if a 9-1-1 caller's address is not correct?

There are internal procedures that PSAP call takers must follow to report and correct addressing discrepancies after a        9-1-1 caller has notified them of the error.

What happens if a person moves?

When you notify your telephone company of a new address, their system will update this change in the Enhanced 9-1-1 database.

Wireless/Cellular Questions

Does 9-1-1 work from my cell phone?

Yes, all cell phone companies doing business in Vermont have activated 9-1-1 dialing.

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

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

What is Phase I 9-1-1 service?

Phase I is a requirement of the Federal Communications Commission for wireless phone companies to provide the address of the cell tower that processes a 9-1-1 call and the call back number of the cell phone to the Public Safety Answering Point. All carriers in Vermont provide this information.

What is Phase II 9-1-1 service?

Phase II is a requirement of the Federal Communications Commission for wireless phone companies to provide an approximation of the 9-1-1 callers location in the form of latitude and longitude.

How do I know if my phone is Phase II capable?

You should check with your cell phone provider to find out if the handset you are currently using is compatible with their Phase II Enhanced 9-1-1 solution. Many older phones do not have this capability.

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.