911 and Emergency Questions & Answers

How do I know if I have a real emergency?

An emergency is when immediate police, fire, or medical assistance is necessary to protect life or property.  If an emergency situation arises, ask yourself one important question: Is there an immediate need for police, fire, or paramedics to protect or save a life or property? If you can answer, "yes" to this question, then dial 9-1-1.

What should I tell the dispatcher when I call?

  • Stay Calm. Give your name, location, and nature of the emergency.
  • Listen carefully to the questions and instructions of the Dispatcher.
  • Answer all questions as accurately as possible. Speak clearly and slowly.
  • Do exactly as instructed during the course of the call.

Should I hang up and try to help or stay on the line?

Never hang up until you are told to do so. It may be frustrating for you, but we will need you to stay on the line until we advise you that it is all right to hang up. Be patient if we seem to ask a lot of questions. There are certain things that we must know to provide you with the services you need.

If I accidentally call 9-1-1 should I hang up?

No.  Stay on the phone and let the dispatcher know that it was a mistake. Also, remember to place your cell phone on "Lock" or "Keylock" mode so that it does not dial 9-1-1 accidentally.

Should I dial 911 if I have a non-emergency situation?

No, do not dial 911 for non-emergency situations. For non-emergency situations such as noisy neighbors or past incidents, use the non-emergency telephone number 978.422.7331.

Never tell the Dispatcher that a situation is more serious than it really is. It is against the law to intentionally and knowingly gives false information to police or emergency services. Abuse of 911 may delay someone else's access to emergency assistance.

When I call 9-1-1, am I calling the agency that I need for my emergency?

If you need assistance from an agency other than the Sterling Police, your call will be transferred to the proper agency.

Text to 911 is now available in Massachusetts

To contact emergency services by text message, simply enter 911 in the “To” field of your mobile device and then type your message into the message field. It is the same process that is used for sending a regular text message from your mobile device. It is important to make every effort to begin the text message indicating the town you are in and provide the best location information that you can. 

We use Rapid SOS technology

When a caller initiates a 911 call, we utilize RapidSOS to access the caller’s location, as well as additional incident-specific information. This information is made available to 911 through RapidSOS’s partnership with RapidSOS Ready partners and is displayed to 911 telecommunicators through RapidSOS.The RapidSOS emergency response data platform securely delivers information to 911 personnel from the apps and devices that we use every day. It can share real-time health data with paramedics when someone is experiencing a heart attack (e.g.current medications, medical history, allergies); immediately notify 911 of a car crash and share critical data (e.g. severity, number of occupants, car crash history); and alert a fire department about a building or home fire and share the location of trapped occupants.
Any individual can also opt in to share critical information with first responders by setting up their Apple Medical ID via the iPhone Health app or by creating an Emergency Health Profile at EmergencyProfile.org, a free service launched by RapidSOS in collaboration with The American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, and Direct Relief