Calling 911

Please call 911 to report the following:

  • Any medical emergency for which immediate care is needed
  • Building fires, brush fires, trash fires, or any other fires
  • Crimes in progress or crimes that have just occurred
  • Fights or riots
  • Traffic accidents
  • Suspicious activity or behavior

You should not call 911 to ask directions or to ask questions. You should report non-emergencies at 540-344-6681. 

Text 911

Text to 911 is intended for citizens that are deaf, hard of hearing, have a speech disability, or if a voice call to 911 might otherwise be dangerous or impossible.  When a text is made to 911 be aware that the caller's location is not always available to the 911 center. Whenever possible, the caller is asked to call 911 instead of texting if it is safe to do so.

The City of Roanoke E-911 Center can accept text messages to 911 from service providers offering this service.  Not all cellular phone companies currently offer this in our area. If you attempt to send a text to 911 where it is not available, FCC rules require all wireless carriers and other text messaging providers to send an automatic "bounce-back" message.  This message will advise you to contact emergency services by another means, such as by making a voice call or using a telecommunications relay service.

Text to 911 currently supports English only

There are a variety of abbreviations or short codes used by citizens when texting. However, when contacting 911 these should not be used to avoid misunderstandings.

Multimedia Text to 911 messages. Although the Text to 911 system will accept multimedia messages (i.e. pictures or video) they are not received immediately at the E-911 Center.  There can be a 15-30 minute delay or more before the multimedia file is received.  So it is important to also describe any information such as description of a person or vehicle in text or by calling 911 by voice.

Wireless / Cell Phone Calls

All calls placed to 911 from wireless/cellular phones will be routed to the closest PSAP (Public Safety Answering Point). To assist the 911 dispatcher in getting you help as quickly as possible you should always stay aware of your surroundings.  When traveling look for signs indicating your location such as mile markers, major cross streets, or businesses.  When calling 911 give these to the dispatcher to help confirm your location. Not all wireless phones provide accurate location.  Depending on your cell service provider, the type of phone you own, and your location the technology varies on how accurate a location is provided to 911.  All wireless phone users need to understand that many things can adversely effect this location technology such as:

  • Calling from inside a large building or parking garage
  • Calling from an area surrounded by large buildings
  • Traveling in a vehicle
  • Weather patterns

Other Items to Remember

  • If your cellular phone does not have a contract for service with a wireless service provider and the call gets disconnected, you must call 911 back because the dispatcher will not be able to call you back.
  • Never drive while talking or texting on your cellular phone, this can have deadly repercussions.

Internet Phone Service and other Technologies

  • Not all new phone technologies provide the same 911 services.
  • Before you buy a new service ask if it is compatible with 911 and if it provides accurate location information when calling.
  • If you have an internet phone service be sure to notify your service provider if you move to a different address.