Can 911 Call You? (and what to do if it happens)


When there’s an emergency, you’re always told to dial 911 or your emergency number equivalent. Is there ever a situation in which 911 would call you instead?

911 can call you if you provide them a callback number and you lose the original connection. Once you two are off that call though, there should be no reason for 911 to call you unless you call them first. 

In today’s article, we’ll discuss why 911 will call you, what kind of number it will show up as on caller ID, and what you should do if it happens. Make sure you check it out! 

Can 911 Call You?

If you’ve read other posts on our blog lately, then you’ll remember that when you place a 911 call, you will be asked to share certain information. This includes your first and last name, your calling location, and your phone number.

While you’re free to decline providing this information (save for your location, which you really should provide), most callers will give their number to the 911 dispatcher.

With this number, 911 can indeed call you. 

However, the only time this will happen is if you and the dispatcher get disconnected on the initial 911 call. 

The dispatcher will then call you back using the number you provided. This way, they can continue to relay your signals to the police.

After the dispatcher has ensured that police have reached your location, you two will hang up and that will be that.

The dispatcher will have countless other calls to deal with throughout the rest of their day, so you have no reason to expect to hear from them again. 

They did their job, which is dispatching the police safely to your location, and now they have to continue doing that job for others.

A 911 dispatcher will never call you out of the blue, as that wouldn’t make any sense. They’re far too busy for that. 

Besides, what would they even call you about? 

The only time you would ever receive a call from 911 is if you called first. 

What Number Will 911 Call You From?

Let’s say that you were on the phone with a 911 dispatcher in the middle of an emergency and the line goes dead. Perhaps you had to hang up because your life was in danger.

The call could have gotten disconnected on one or both sides, or you could have run out of phone batteries or even payphone minutes (hey, you never know!).

No matter the circumstances, you know from the last section that you should expect a 911 call shortly.

On your phone’s caller ID, or even on the landline caller ID, how will the number display? 

It won’t show as 911, if that’s what you were thinking. Rather, you’ll see a random seven-digit number.

This is an administrative number. 

In some cases, the caller ID might show as blocked or restricted. Both might set off alarm bells, especially in a situation where you’re already panicky because of an emergency.

The timing of the call is your giveaway that this is the 911 dispatcher calling you back. The dispatcher will dial the callback number you provided as soon as they realize you two are disconnected so you can resume the call. 

Also, I wrote an entire article on how long it takes 911 to respond. Click the link to check it out.

What Should You Do If 911 Calls You?

Let’s say that you are indeed in a situation where 911 calls you back. What do you do? Here is the protocol to follow. 

Answer the Phone

The most important thing by far is to answer the phone! The dispatcher needs to talk to you if you got disconnected from your 911 call to get the police to you, so don’t wait to answer the phone. 

Reply to the Dispatcher’s Questions

The dispatcher might still have questions for you, such as whether you’re in a dangerous situation (as that could be why you disconnected) or whether you can hear police sirens, which would indicate that the police are near.

No matter what the dispatcher asks you at this stage in the game, be willing to provide information. You’ll be able to get assistance sooner.  

Stay on the Line for as Long as You’re Told To

If you accidentally disconnected before, make sure you don’t do that again. You must stay with the dispatcher on the line until police arrive or until the dispatcher tells you that you can hang up. 

What Happens If You Accidentally Call 911 and Hang Up? 

What if you or another member of your household dials 911 without meaning to? Since it was an accident, you just want to hang up rather than talk to a dispatcher.

Well, as we’ve made clear throughout this article, a dispatcher can’t necessarily tell if you hung up intentionally because you didn’t mean to call or because you’re in genuine danger and cannot talk.

Since the dispatcher didn’t get any information from you such as a name or phone number, they will attempt to use your cell tower information to send police to your location. 

Then you’ll have to explain that it was all one big misunderstanding. Although you won’t be fined or punished for one mistaken call, you don’t want to make it a habit. 

Looking for an in depth article on what to do if you accidentally call 911? Click the link to check out the article I wrote.

Each time you call 911 without needing it, you’re wasting the dispatcher’s time as well as that of your local police force. People who truly need emergency assistance might not be able to get it in a timely manner because of you.

Even if you dial 91 and then 1, that still counts. The same goes for asking Siri or another voice assistant to contact emergency services.

The 911 phone line is not a joke. Be sure to teach your children this and other members of the family (if needed) as well! 

911 can call you using the number that you provided during the call. They’re getting in touch to ensure that police are dispatched to your location and you can receive the help you need. 

If you don’t need emergency services, then don’t dial 911. If you need police assistance for a less serious manner, call your local non-emergency police line instead. That will be a seven-digit number and not 911.

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