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.