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The 101 on 911

911. America’s universal emergency number, those three digits have ingrained themselves in our society due to both their notoriety and widespread recognition. Every year, Glendale Fire and Police receive over 100,000 911 calls. Responding accordingly to these calls requires emergency response dispatchers to exercise precision coordination to properly allocate personnel and resources. No one likes to think about calling 911, but it’s important to familiarize yourself with the dispatch procedures in case you ever find yourself starting to dial those three digits.


The express purpose of the 911 Emergency System is to rapidly connect those who need emergency assistance with those who provide such care.

All 911 calls are initially received by your local Police department or California Highway Patrol. The exact office is contingent upon your respective location and nature of your phone. Those calling about fire or medical emergencies will be transferred to a dispatch operator at the Verdugo Fire Communication Center.

Information is Vital

While callers are often understandably under some form of duress, our dispatchers rely on your information to provide them with context regarding your emergency situation. Below are the questions dispatchers will ask:

  • What is the emergency?

  • Is it a police, fire, or medical emergency?

  • What is the exact location of the emergency?

  • What is the nearest cross street?

  • If located inside a building, what floor or area of the building are you in?

  • Give your name and the phone number you are call from.

As the situation evolves and you’re potentially transferred to multiple dispatchers, you might be required to repeat the same information. Be sure to listen carefully to all instructions the 911 operator gives you. Whatever you do, don’t hang up.

Translators are standing by as well.

Defining an Emergency

An emergency is classified as a situation where help is needed immediately to save lives and protect property. Emergency criteria include:

  • Fire

  • Serious injury

  • Medical problems

  • Danger due to accidents, earthquakes, floods, or exposure to hazardous materials

While we understand the term is subjective, please don’t call 911 for:

  • Transportation to the doctor’s office

  • Filling a prescription

  • Seeking treatment for minor symptoms

  • Medical advice

  • Helping a cat or animal in a tree

  • Needing to pay a bill

  • Reporting a power outage

Note: False alarms and inappropriate 911 calls needlessly divert emergency resources and making a false report is a misdemeanor punishable by law.


We hope you never have to call 911, but in the case of an emergency, we want you to make sure you’re properly informed. To find out more information about 911, visit

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