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Inappropriate 911 Calls

Some calls are not appropriate for 911. These calls tie up an emergency line that could be used to answer a call that could be a real emergency. Here are some examples of inappropriate calls:

  • What time do the 4th of July fireworks begin in my town? (event information)
  • Why is the traffic on Route 17 so slow today? (traffic information)
  • What is the best way to get to the park? (directions)
  • Did the concert get cancelled tonight? (cancellations)
  • What's the phone number for Verizon? (directory service)
  • When will my lights be back on? (private matters)

The following is a list of calls which are NOT handled by 911 and suggestions as to where you could call to find the information you need:

Non-Emergency Calls 2-1-1

United Way’s 2-1-1 Helpline is a free, confidential, multilingual service to assist the public to find the answers to a variety of Health and Human Services related questions. You can call or search this database about everything from basic needs like food, clothing and shelter, to volunteer opportunities, legal services, drug treatment, employment support, childcare, eldercare and more.

Whether answering to a natural disaster, a personal emergency or to furnish tools to foster independent lives, United Way’s 2-1-1 seeks to help those in need wherever they live. 2-1-1 can give callers up-to-date information on emergency shelters, road conditions, etc.

Telephone numbers

911 operators will not provide any telephone numbers. Contact Information at 411.

Utilities (Cable/Phone/Electric)

911 operators will not pass along information for you if your phone is out of order nor do they keep listings of service outages. To report your phone out of order or to check on wide area outages, contact your phone provider (ie: Verizon, Frontier, Time Warner Cable, etc.)

911 operators will not pass along information for you if your cable TV is out of order nor do they keep listings of service outages. To report your cable TV out or order or to check on wide area outages, contact Time Warner Cable or your television provider.

911 operators will not pass along information for you if your electric is off nor do they keep listings of service outages. To report your electric is off or to check on wide area outages, contact:

  • New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG)
  • Central Hudson
  • Orange & Rockland

Traffic, Weather, Road Conditions or Closings or School Closings

911 operators will not provide information on these conditions or closings. During storms you should listen to your radio or television for up to date conditions and closings. Or you can contact:

  • 5-1-1 for NYS DOT Traffic & Transit (State Roads)
  • 2-1-1 for information during disasters
  • Contact your school directly for school closings


Community Events / Parade Schedules

911 operators will not provide information on community events. You can contact:

  • The event sponsor
  • Search the internet (visitors associations, chamber of commerce, etc.)
  • Local town/village hall

Court and Jail Information

911 operators will not provide information on court dates or times, bail amounts, whether or not someone is in custody or when visitation is. You should contact:

  • Appropriate police agency:
    • Sheriff’s Office: 845-794-7100
    • New York State Police: 845-292-6600
    • Town of Fallsburg Police: 845-434-4422
    • Village of Liberty Police: 845-292-4422
    • Village of Monticello Police: 845-794-4422
  • Sullivan County Jail 845-794-7102
  • Your local village, town or county court


  1. Why does 911 ask so many question?

    1. Dispatchers are required to ask certain questions to help provide you with the appropriate help and give the responding agencies an accurate report of your emergency.

  2. Does answering all the call takers questions delay help?

    1. No. The dispatcher is entering the information you give them into their Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system. Once you verify your address and we determine the type of emergency you are having, other dispatchers are already sending help while additional information is being obtained from you.

  3. When will help arrive?

    1. Response time for first responders depends on a number of factors. The main factor is that most ambulance agencies and fire departments are staffed by volunteers. It may take a few extra minutes for volunteers to travel from their homes to the ambulance or fire stations before responding. Also, all calls that come into the call center are given a priority status and the lower priority calls may have to wait until a unit clears a higher priority call. Some other factors may be how busy the agency is, weather conditions, traffic, geography, and the overall distance the responders are from your location.

  4. Can I text 911?

    1. Yes. You can text-to-9-1-1 in Sullivan County. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when using this option. It is harder for us to get your location via your cell phone this way, and it will also take more time to get the necessary information the dispatcher needs. If you use this option, be sure to send the correct address where you are located and provide as much detail as possible about your emergency.

  5. Are there other telephone lines being answered at 911?

    1. Dispatchers do answer several administrative lines in addition to 911 lines. These lines are used for reporting non-emergency incidents and communicating with other emergency service agencies and responders.

  6. If I accidentally call 911, can I just hang up?

    1. No. Dispatchers treat every 911 call as an emergency until we have determined otherwise.When a dispatcher answers a 911 call, the main goal is to try and find the location of that phone so help can be sent to check that location for any emergencies. If you accidentally call 911, the best thing you can do is stay on the line, tell the dispatcher that the call was accidental, and provide your name and address. If you have an emergency in the future and dial 911, the dispatcher can check previous records to help locate you and send you help.

  7. Why can’t you find my location when I call 911?

    1. When a person calls 911 from a cell phone, the dispatcher’s first priority is to find the location of the caller. There are a few factors that contribute to finding your location. All cellular 911 calls are routed to the proper 911 center based upon where the cell tower is located that the 911 call “hits.” If the dispatcher is unable to find your location right away, they would need to manually request GPS information from your phone, or in some cases contact your cellular provider. Most times there is a response from your phone and we can send help. Some factors that can impede our ability to do so can be poor cell phone reception and different technology between cellular carriers.


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