Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

General Questions  |  Telephone Service and 911 | Addressing Questions  |  Wireless/Cellular Questions | VoIP Questions | Enterprise Communication Systems Questions

General Questions

Who oversees The State of Vermont’s 911 system?

The Enhanced 911 Board.

How is Enhanced 911 service funded?

Enhanced 911 is funded through the Vermont Universal Service Fund (VUSF).

Is Enhanced 911 available in all Vermont communities?

All towns in Vermont have access to Enhanced 911.

What is a 911 emergency?

A person should call 911 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 911 needed?

Enhanced 911 provides the 911 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 911 call-taker be able to locate me?

Vermont 911 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 911 call-taker is provided automatic location information (ALI) from the service provider.  Depending on the type of service (wireline, VoIP, wireless) the accuracy of the location may vary, this why the Vermont 911 call-takers always verify your location.

Who answers my 911 calls and how are emergency responders dispatched?

Certified Vermont 911 call-taker in any one of Vermont’s six Public Safety Answering Points will answer your call. 

The Vermont 911 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 911 call-taker may ask additional questions and provide continued assistance.

How do deaf, hard of hearing and speech-impaired persons use Enhanced 911?

Vermont 911 is TTY capable and is ADA compliant. Vermont also supports Text to 911, and can receive calls from video relay services.

If I discontinue service on my residential wireline can I still call 911 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 911)?  

NG911 replaces Enhanced 911 systems and provides the same functionality but with more features.  NG911 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.   NG911 can accept voice calls, text to 911, and in the future multimedia such as photos and videos.   As telephone service providers adopt newer technologies, Vermont Enhanced 911 will be ready to leverage our NG911 system to provide a more efficient and robust experience for our 911 caller.

Questions and Information to consider about Telephone Service and 911

The National Emergency Number Association has a motto of "anytime, anywhere, any device".  This motto speaks to the expectiation of being able to reach 911, at anytime, from anywhere, on any device.   The Vermont 911 Board agrees with this motto, and encourages the growth and diversity of Vermont's telecommunications landscape.  It is important that consumers understand the benifits and limitations of the various telecommunication services available to them.  

Below are some references to help you understand the different types of services that may be available to you and how these services work with 911. 
 
 
 
 
 
Due to variances in technology, it is important to talk to your telecommunication service provider about the services they offer and how these services works with 911. 
 
Here are some questions you may want to consider discussing with your telecommunication service provider.
 
If my power is out, can I still make a call to 911?
 
Are their any forseeable points of failure that would cause a loss of service so that I could not make a call to 911?
 
Will I receive a notification from you as my service provider if my access to 911 is not available due to a problem with your systems?
 
How do you as my service provider validate and provide my location when I call 911?
 
Are there conditions where I am responsible for updating my location for purposes of 911?
 
If my service is suspended or disconnected can I still call 911?

 

Enterprise Communications Systems Questions

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 Enhanced 911 Compliance?

Enhanced 911 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 911.

Why is Enhanced 911 ECS Compliance so important?

Every second counts in an emergency. A call to 911 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 911 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 E911 Compliant?

Enhanced 911 Compliance Grant Program

The Enhanced 911 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 911 in the event of an emergency.

The Vermont Enhanced 911 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 911 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 911?

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 911 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 911 Board Technical and Operational Standards municipalities must designate an individual responsible for all addressing in their town. Addresses must be assigned by the municipal 911 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 Enhanced 911 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 911 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 911 addressing standards

If you have any questions regarding addressing, please contact your municipal 911 coordinator. Find you addressing coordinator here.

What’s the difference between my 911 physical address and my mailing address?

Your 911 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 911 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 911 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 911 physical address does not exist in the USPS address database.

How do I check to see if my physical address is in VT 911 map?

You can check if your physical address is on the VT 911 map by going to the “Quick E911 Tools” button.    http://e911.vermont.gov/sites/e911/files/image/E911-Quick_Tool.JPG

When your address is not showing on The Vermont Enhanced 911 Board maps, you can report an error directly from the E911 Viewer from the Quick E911 Tools button shown above and follow instructions. 

Or contact your municipal 911 coordinator and have them submit the address to our office. You can find your municipal 911 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 911 map. To confirm your 911 address please see the above link at: “How do I check to see if my physical address is in VT Enhanced 911 data/map?”

When you have a newly assigned address or it has been changed to conform to the Vermont Enhanced 911 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 911 from my cell phone will the Vermont 911 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 911 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 911 contacting me?

Vermont 911 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 911.  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 911 industry, non-serviced initialized (NSI) refers to a device such as a deactivated cellular phone, or a pendent that can connect you to 911 without a cellular service plan.  What are the limitations of an NSI device?

1. Location accuracy can vary dependent on device.

2. 911 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 911.  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 911 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 911 from my VoIP phone?

You can reach emergency assistance by dialing 911 on most VoIP phones. However, there are important differences between some VoIP 911 service and traditional 911 service from a standard phone. Sometimes the 911 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 911 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 911 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 911 call routed to the correct 911 PSAP?

When you sign up for VoIP service, you are asked to register your location. For a 911 call to go to the right 911 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 911 call is misrouted to the wrong 911 PSAP?

If your VoIP call is routed to the wrong 911 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 911 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 911 know where I am when calling from my VoIP phone?

Possibly. No matter where your call routes, the 911 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 911 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 911?

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 911, 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. 911 leaders recommend you keep your traditional phone in addition to your VoIP phone in order to insure you can access 911 services and have access to a phone in a power or service outage.

Contact Information

Enhanced 911 Board
100 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05620-6501
(802) 828-4911
Fax - (802) 828-4109
TTY - (802) 828-5779
Toll Free - 1-800-342-4911 (VT only)
Email the Board

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