Waukesha County

Waukesha County Communications
Frequently Asked Questions

When should I call 9-1-1?

You should call 9-1-1 any time there is a life threatening emergency, and immediate assistance is needed from law enforcement or a fire/EMS department. If you are not sure you should call 9-1-1 to report something, call 9-1-1 and speak with one of our dispatchers who can help in determining what type of assistance to send.

How can I help the 9-1-1 call taker?

  • Answer all questions asked by the call-taker.
    • Location
    • City/Town/Village the emergency is occurring in
    • Phone number you are calling from
    • State the problem
    • Further questioning...
  • Listen to all instructions provided to you by the call-taker.
  • Speak clearly 
  • Remain calm (difficult to do at times, we understand. But by remaining calm, you will help the call-taker gather valuable information needed by first responders).

Will callers dialing 9-1-1 reach a recording?

WCC strives to answer the phone as quickly as possible in every situation. We are able to answer 911 calls within the first 15 seconds 95% of the time. At no point will you hear a recording when speaking with our center.

Are all 9-1-1 calls in Waukesha County answered by WCC?

Any time you use your cell phone in the county, your call will be answered by call-takers at WCC. Those calls are either processed in their entirety by our staff if the incident is occurring in a jurisdiction that WCC dispatchers police or fire/EMS for, or transferred to the responsible PSAP whether that be in the county or a surrounding county. If you have a landline telephone and you call 911, you may reach our center if you are part of the municipalities that we dispatch for, otherwise your 911 call will go directly into one of the remaining five PSAPs in the county.

Those PSAPs are:

  • City of Waukesha Dispatch
  • Elm Grove Dispatch
  • Muskego Dispatch
  • Mukwonago Dispatch
  • Oconomowoc Dispatch (police only)

Why does the 9-1-1 call taker ask so many questions?

The call taker answers a 9-1-1 call with the question "9-1-1, what's the address of the emergency?" This is the most critical piece of information we can gather. If we do not have a location of the problem, how can we send help? WCC uses a set of medical protocols called Emergency Medical Dispatch. The primary goal of using these protocols is to provide the correct help to the correct address for the correct problem. The protocols are built into our computer aided dispatch (CAD) systems, and prompt dispatchers to ask questions in order to correctly “code” the call so that responders will have a clear picture of the medical emergency. All questions asked by the call-taker are important and are asked in such a way to gather the most appropriate information in the shortest amount of time. During emergency situations, help is usually on the way while the call-taker continues to gather more information from you.  A radio dispatcher sends first responders while the call-taker is speaking with you...questions do not delay the response.

What should I do if I dial 9-1-1 by mistake?

Do not hang-up! Remain on the line (even if you are unsure at first if the call went through) and tell the call-taker that the call was a mistake. If you hang up prior to your misdialed 9-1-1 call being answered, the call-taker must then send law enforcement and attempt to call you back. Your cooperation in this process is appreciated. A common misconception is that you will get "in trouble" for accidentally dialing 9-1-1. This is simply not true! Accidents happen. We understand!

Is it okay to give my child a deactivated cell phone?

Deactivated cell phones will still call 911. In fact, it is the ONLY number they can dial. Removing the battery from these phones is the only way to ensure that the phone will not dial 911.

Can 911 dispatchers see where I’m calling from if I’m on a cell phone?

When our center first gets a call we do something called “rebidding” which is basically attempting to gather coordinates from your cell phone. Most cell phones provide enough information for our phones system and CAD to geo- plot your general location using those coordinates. Accuracy depends on several factors, including the cell provider and the cell tower your call bounces off of. These geo-plots are not always 100% accurate, so it is important that you attempt to provide your address or cross streets when calling.

What number do I call for non-emergency assistance or if I am calling from outside of Waukesha County and need our help?

If you have a non-emergency situation and reside in Waukesha County in one of the municipalities we dispatch for, you can dial 262-446-5070. If you don’t see your community in the list we dispatch for, please see surrounding departments non-emergency numbers. If you still cannot find what you are looking for please call us and we will attempt to assist you.

Can I dial 911 from a payphone?

Yes. Calls to 9-1-1 from payphones are provided at no charge.

Can the 9-1-1 PSAP communicate with the speech and/or hearing impaired? Or what if the 9-1-1 caller doesn't speak English?

All workstations at WCC are equipped with Telecommunication Device for the Deaf (TDD) that allows typed (text) communication with people who are hearing and/or speech impaired.

If a caller does not speak English, our center has access to Language Line Services that provide 24/7 over-the-phone interpretation of over 175 different languages. The process of getting an interpreter on the phone with the caller takes generally less than one minute.

Is it possible to send a Text Message to 9-1-1?

YES! You can send a text message to 9-1-1. Call if you can, text if you can't.

I have additional question(s) that have not been covered in your FAQ. What can I do to address my question(s)?

Please send us an email WCC@waukeshacounty.gov. We will receive your question and have an answer for you shortly!  Or feel free to give one of our friendly call-takers a call on the non-emergency line: 262-446-5070.