When to call 911
911 is for emergencies only. An emergency is an immediate threat to life or property, occurring right now or that could worsen or become life -threatening if not addressed immediately. Examples of 911 emergencies include fire, crime in progress or just occurred, or medical crisis. A good rule of thumb is when life or property is threatened or at immediate risk or if there is a good chance that a criminal can be apprehended.
If you are unsure how serious an incident is, do not hesitate to call 911. Assistance will be dispatched to the most critical calls first. Call precedence from highest to lowest:
• Threat to life
• Threat to property or property damage
• General assistance
Stay on the line if your phone accidentally dialed 911
Cell phones have made accidental 911 calls a frequent issue that takes time and resources from 911 centers and law enforcement. Please help us minimize those resources by talking to a dispatcher right away if your phone accidentally makes an emergency call.
If you accidentally dial 911, do not hang up. If you pick up your cell phone and screen shows it is dialing 911, don’t hang up! It is too late to cancel a 911 call once it starts. 911 dispatch centers are notified of each attempted call.
Let the call taker know that you accidentally called. Otherwise, the call taker will attempt to call you back, and if unable to reach you, will trace the call (if necessary) and dispatch police to the location in an attempt to identify the emergency. This ensures that a caller who is incapacitated or unable to communicate with the call taker can receive help. The easiest and fastest way to resolve the situation for you and for our dispatchers is to stay on the line and answer a few questions. They will make sure you are not in need of assistance and that you can speak freely before hanging up.
Text-to-911 is active in all of Washington State. Texting can be an important tool for those who are hearing-impaired, speech-impaired or not able to speek freely to gain equal access to 911. Text-to-911 is slower than a call to 911 and should be used only if you are unable to make a voice call during an emergency.
• Include the exact location of the emergency (including city). Text-to-911 does not provide an accurate location.
• Include the type of help needed (police, fire, medical).
• Continue to monitor text messages and follow instructions from the call taker.
• Use full words in plain English – do not use common texting abbreviations.
• A text plan with your carrier is required to text 911.
• Do not include anyone else in the text conversation. A group text will cause your message not to go through.
• Do not send photos or videos.
When to call the non-emergency line
If you need to report something that is not an in-progress emergency or are in doubt, you can always call Jeffcom on our 24-hour non-emergency line: Dial 360-344-9779 and press 0 during the recorded message to speak to a communications officer.
Jeffcom communications officers do not receive text messages sent to the non-emergency line. Text-to-911 is available only for emergency texts to 911.
What is NOT an emergency
• Non-injury and non-blocking automobile accidents
• Nuisance complaints (i.e. noise, parking, etc.)
• Non-dangerous animal control issues
• Requests for non-emergency services from a fire department
• Contacting law enforcement regarding follow-up to a case
• To provide access information for your property (lock codes and hidden-key information) for use in case of a later emergency
• Information about or messages to other individuals or agencies
Our non-emergency / business telephone numbers ring in the dispatch center 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Find our non-emergency & business telephone numbers under Contact. If in doubt, call 911. Better safe than sorry.
When to call other agencies directly
Power outages, potholes, airplane noise, vehicle lockouts, dead animals (in most cases), snowy roads, traffic backups, bridge closures and similar issues may be urgent to the person experiencing them, but they are not handled by a 911 communications center. For such issues, you should directly contact someone who can help you.
Utilities and power outages
Road issues and traffic
Contact the appropriate road-maintenance agency for non-emergent road issues including downed trees, deceased animals, potholes, etc. WSDOT is the proper contact for state highways (101, 104, 116, 19 and 20). Jefferson County Public Works is responsible for public county roads outside the City of Port Townsend. Port Townsend Public Works is responsible for public streets within the city. There is no agency to contact about private-road maintenance and repair.
For information about traffic including the Hood Canal Bridge, 511 is the number to call anywhere within Washington State. WSDOT also provides a traffic information via an app and social media. Contact WSDOT Customer Service for information about the state ferry system. Jeffcom does not have information on the reasons for traffic delays and cannot advise callers about traffic.
Please remember that by increasing the use of non-emergency numbers and restricting the use of 911 to emergencies only will help to ensure that 911 is readily available to all citizens during real emergency situations.
988 is the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, which is confidential, free and available 24/7/365. For help with health and human service needs call 211 anywhere in Washington State.
If you do not speak English or have trouble conveying the needed information in English, Jeffcom staff will engage Language Line for interpretation services.
All personnel are trained to identify and answer TTY or TDD (Telephone Device for the Deaf) calls. Each call taking position is equipped to answer these types of calls. If you are a TDD user in our area, please contact Jeffcom so we can better assist you in the event of an emergency.
Teach your children the proper use of 911 early.
You do not need a coin to dial 911 from a pay phone.