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When To Dial 911

Ambulance

By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - You know that in case of an emergency, you call 911. But while it seems like a silly question, what is and what isn’t an emergency?

An Illinois man recently pleaded guilty and was fined $775 and sentenced to probation after calling 911 to complain about his broken iPhone. Apparently, the problem was there was a drunken idiot dialing it. But sometimes it’s not so obvious what constitutes an emergency. Here’s the definition:

An emergency condition is a condition of sufficient severity that a reasonably prudent person would realize that failure to receive immediate attention would lead to serious consequences. It’s a situation where the safety of people and property is at risk, like the case of a fire, a crime in action, or a medical crisis.

It’s not an emergency if the situation isn’t dangerous and immediate action is not necessary. You should not call 911 if there’s a car accident but no injuries, if there had been a crime but the perpetrator has left, or to follow up on an auto theft report.

For those, check the directory for police non-emergency dispatch numbers. You can make sure your phone is working first, but not by checking with 911.