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FAQ


Can I text to 911?

As if May 16, 2014, you cannot text to 911 in Brown County. The function is being investigated and should be available in the future. There is no date planned.

What is 911?

A national emergency number was established in 1968. The United States government worked with the phone providers to establish one number to call for emergencies. The first 911 call was made on February 16, 1968 in Haleyville, Alabama.

What does 911 do?

When you call 911 from your home phone, the 911 Center receives your caller ID information, even if it is blocked, and your location information (address). Cellular phones are a different story; Click Here: for more information about 911 and cellular phones.

When should I call 911?

911 is for emergencies.  If the situation seems urgent and has the potential to become dangerous to people or property, call 911.  Examples include: crimes that are in progress, fires or medical problems requiring emergency assistance. If you are unsure if your situation is an emergency, dial 911.  All other calls should be directed to our non-emergency number at 626-7911.

What types of things should not be reported to 911?

Any call that is not an emergency should be handled on our non-emergency line 626-7911.  Examples include: lost pets, Crimes not in progress such as your car being broken into or your house being vandalized overnight.  If you are ever unsure, CALL 911.

What if I’m not sure whether my situation is an emergency or not?

If you’re not sure, call 911.  We are trained to determine the severity of situations and send appropriate help.

What if I call 911 accidentally?

If you accidentally dial 911, do not hang up.  Stay on the line and answer the dispatcher’s questions.  We treat every 911 call as it is a real emergency. Many times victims of crimes have called 911 and their assailant has hung up the phone or taken the phone away from the victim. We always want to ensure the safety of the caller. If you call 911 and hang up, we will make contact with you.

If I call 911, what will they ask me?

What is the address you are calling from?

If you don’t know the actual address, tell the dispatcher and then give cross streets, or provide nearby landmarks and business names, or look at house numbers in the area.  If you are calling from inside a home or business, look on a piece of mail.  When asked for a location, we need you to be specific. 

What is the phone number you’re calling from?

This is necessary in case we need to call you back.

What is the problem?

Tell us exactly what happened.  Be as concise as possible.  Tell us what the problem is now, not what led up to the problem.

Why do the dispatchers ask so many questions when I call 911?

The 911 operator needs to ask questions to determine where the emergency is at and what is happening.  While the questions may seem unnecessary to you, the information is helping the dispatcher make sure they get the correct responders to your location as quickly as possible.  Another part of our task is to ensure the safety of the responders, we are also asking questions to help determine those issues.

While the dispatcher that answered your call is talking to you, other dispatchers on duty are also working on the call, so help is often sent while the caller is still on the phone with the first dispatcher.

How long do most 911 calls last?

 The length of a 911 varies based on the severity and circumstances involved with each situation.

I have Vonage, what does that mean for 911?

Any of the internet based calling services, such as Vonage, MagicJack, NetTalk or Ooma can call 911. However, YOU are responsible for your 911 location data. If you set up Vonage with your home address, it will always display that same information, even if you move to a different city, unless YOU change it. For example, if you set up your Ooma system in Aberdeen, SD with your local address and then you move to Phoenix, AZ and call 911, it will call the 911 Center in Aberdeen. You can see the problems that would cause for you.

Each time you change the location of your VoIP system, YOU must change that information with your VoIP provider.

What if something happens to me and I can’t speak?  How can 911 help me?

When you dial 911 from a traditional telephone, one that is wired into a house or other building, the location from which you are calling is displayed on the dispatchers computer screen.  If you cannot speak, either because of impairment, illness or crime in progress, a police officer will be sent to your location to check for any trouble.  If you are ill or being kept from talking by an intruder, leave the telephone off the hook.  Any noise that we can hear will help us determine the most appropriate response.  We will stay on the line until the responders arrive on scene. It will take us longer to find you if you are on a cell phone.

What if the caller does not speak English?

Brown County Communications employees can get a translator on the line within seconds once the language spoken is identified.  The translator will remain on the line throughout the call to relay information between the caller and the 911 operator.

How do I call in a controlled burn?

When you plan to do a controlled burn, please contact us on our non-emergency number 626-7911.  We will ask you for the location, a telephone number you can be reached at and what you will be burning. When your fire is completely out and no longer smoldering, call back into the dispatch center to advise them your burn is complete. Remember that an unsupervised burn is no longer a controlled burn and the fire department may be sent. Controlled Burning Information.

 If you live within 3 miles of city limits you will need to contact Aberdeen Fire and Rescue to get a burn permit, they can be reached at 626-7048. 

I hit a deer, what do I do?     

South Dakota Codified Law 32-34-7, requires any accident that has an apparent damage amount of $1000 or more must immediately be reported to Law Enforcement

If you hit a deer with your vehicle, you probably have over that dollar amount and you must report the crash. Other factors to consider: The dispatcher will ask you is the roadway clear and is the animal deceased?

If you are injured and need immediate assistance, call 911. If your vehicle is disabled and you can’t get off the roadway, call 911.

If your vehicle is drivable and you and your passengers are OK, call the South Dakota Highway Patrol  at 605 353 7132 or Brown County Communications at 605 626 7911.