Waukesha County

Waukesha County Communications
Frequently Asked Questions

When should I call 9-1-1?

You should call 9-1-1 any time you believe an ambulance, fire truck, or law enforcement needs to respond immediately to a situation. If you are not sure you should call 9-1-1 to report something, call 9-1-1 and speak with one of our specially trained Communicators who can help in determining what type of assistance to send.

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

Waukesha County Communications 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 the highly trained personnel at WCC. Those calls are either processed in their entirety by our staff 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 24 municipalities that we dispatch for, otherwise your 911 call will go directly into one of the remaining 5 PSAPS in the county.

Those PSAPs are:

  • City of Waukesha Dispatch
  • Elm Grove Dispatch
  • Muskego Dispatch
  • Mukwonago Dispatch
  • Oconomowoc Dispatch

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

  • Answer all questions asked by the call-taker.
  • Listen to all instructions provided to you by the call taker.
  • Speak clearly (so we can understand what you are telling us).
  • 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).

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? Waukesha County Communications 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.

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. Waukesha County Communications policy is to return every 911 call if contact is not established. The dispatcher will then ask for your current location, name, and date of birth. The appropriate law enforcement agency will be notified of the call and it will be their discretion to respond for verification. 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 24 municipalities we dispatch for (Police - Fire/EMS) you can dial 262-446-5070. If you don’t see your community in the list we dispatch for click here to see some of the 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 9-1-1 from a cellular telephone?

Yes. In most cases your phone sends information to the 911 center with coordinates that we can plot on our map to get a good idea of where you are calling from. It is not 100% accurate so it is very important that you stay on the line and give your location to the call taker.

You know those old phones you gave to your children to play with? THOSE CAN STILL CALL 911! Any cellular phone, as long as it has some battery life left, is able to call 911. If you give your children your old phone to play with, take the battery out or make sure there is no charge on that battery.

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

All workstations in the Communications Center 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 24hr/day over-the-phone interpretation of over 175 different languages. The process of getting an interpreter on the phone with the caller is 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 get your question and have an answer for you shortly!