Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the questions we frequently hear from people. Please click the question for the answer

Why do the telecommunicators ask so many questions when I dial 9-1-1?


Calltakers need to gather information for the safety of the officers, firefighters, medical personnel and you. The 9-1-1 operator you are talking to has already dispatched your call to responders but oftentimes he/she has to keep you on the line to gather more information which is important to the call. Address verification and a call back number are crucial. Allen County is trained to provide pre-arrival instructions in accordance with EMD/EFD protocol. Based on the information provided by the caller, the protocol helps calltakers recognize specific, life-threatening situations that can benefit from a zero-minute response. In these incidents, the protocol prompts the calltaker to give easy-to-follow, step-by-step pre-arrival instructions to the caller to support life until field responders arrive.




How many phone lines are there in the 9-1-1 center?


There are six incoming 9-1-1 lines. In addition, five administrative lines. That's a lot of phones to answer.




Why does it take 9-1-1 so long to answer?


In actuality, we average less than five seconds in answering your 9-1-1 call. Sometimes, if a major incident occurs, many people dial 9-1-1 at the same time and it slows down our ability to answer each call. Your call is important to us and we will answer as quickly as we possibly can.




What happens if my 9-1-1 service goes out?


It's not likely that 9-1-1 service would go out. Should that ever happen, you can reach the center at 620-365-1437. Should your phone service be out completely, it's a good idea to know where your closest fire station is located. You can always go there for assistance. Every fire station in the county maintains radio contact with Allen County 911 Communications Center.




Why do you talk in "codes" and "signals"?


The use of 10 signals and codes has nothing to do with secrecy as many people think. Instead, it is a means of communicating to avoid confusion and to be brief--for example, it's a lot easier to say "10-47" than "automobile accident without injuries." By the way, we don't supply the general public with lists of our codes and signals but many retailers who sell scanners and other radio and electronics equipment do. Check with them.




How can I become a 911 Communications Officer?


If you are at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma or equivalent, have no criminal record, can pass a simulated telecommunicator test and are willing to work a variety of shifts with rotating days off, you could become a telecommunicator. Visit this image below for a job application. We stress again, this is shift work with rotating days off.




What information do I need to provide the Allen County 911 Center when I call 911 from a cell phone?


Location, location, location is the key when calling 911 from a cell phone. Dispatch is unable to pinpoint your exact location when you call 911 from a cell phone. If you are not sure of the address of the house you are in, look around for mail. If you are not sure what the street is, look for a landmark. Please help us help you!!




Can I call dispatch to see if there is a warrant out for my arrest?


Telecommunicators are unable to give this information out over the phone. Please come to the Police Department or Sheriff’s Office with a picture identification and they can check for you.




Can old, uninitialized (non-service) cell phones dial 911?


Yes. Be careful with old cell phones that do not have a cell service provider. Almost 5% of our wireless 911 calls are coming from old cell phones or uninitialized (non-service) cell phones. If you hang up with one of these phones we cannot call you back. We are unable to ping your location from this type of cell phone. Reminder - take the battery out of old cell phones before giving them to children to play with. These phones can still dial 911.




Where do I call to report a controlled burn?


Please call the non-emergency number of the Allen County 911 Communication Center at 620-365-1437 before you burn and to let us know when you are done. Remember the burning regulations KAR 19-647: (3) A person shall not initiate burning during the nighttime, which for the purposes of this regulation is defined as the period from two hours before sunset until one hour after sunrise. A person shall not add material to a fire after two hours before sunset. (4) A person shall not burn during inclement or foggy conditions or on very cloudy days, which are defined as days with more than 0.7 cloud cover and with a ceiling of less than 2,000 feet. (5) A person shall not burn during periods when surface wind speed is less than 5 mph or more than 15 mph. (6) A person shall not burn within 1,000 feet of any occupied dwelling, unless the occupant of that dwelling has been notified before the burn. For more information open burning see our KAR 28 regulations:

KAR 28.pdf




Does the 9-1-1 Center know my location when I call from a cell phone?


Allen County 911 Communications Center is a Phase 2 enabled county. This means that when you dial 9-1-1 from a cell phone, the telecommunicator can see your approximate location by receiving the location of the cell tower your call is coming from. The Telecommunicator also attempts to get your exact coordinates through GPS. This process could take 20 seconds or more and the exact coordinates they receive could be about the size of a football stadium. GPS coordinates do not provide elevation, which can be critical when calling from a multi-story building.

When you call 9-1-1 from your cell phone, always assume the telecommunicator does not know where you are at and be prepared to give all address and location information for the emergency, including landmarks.




What should I do if I accidentally call 9-1-1?


If you accidentally dial 9-1-1, DO NOT HANG UP!

The best thing you can do is to stay on the line until a telecommunicator answers so you can tell them that you dialed by mistake. If you do hang up before speaking with a telecommunicator, an attempt will be made to call your number back to make sure everything is okay and that there is no emergency. If no contact is made on the callback attempt, an officer will be dispatched to the location of the 9-1-1 call to ascertain if there is an emergency.




Is the Allen County 911 Communications Center able to assist callers who do not speak English?


Yes, if someone calls 9-1-1 and does not speak English, they will be transferred to Language Line Services where an interpreter will be able to translate all questions and answers. Using this service ensures there is no delay in dispatching emergency personnel to the location of the emergency and assures that the most accurate information is obtained from the caller.




Does Allen County 911 Communications Center have the ability to assist hearing and speech impaired callers?


Yes, hearing and speech impaired callers are able to call 9-1-1 just like any other citizen. As required by the Americans with Disabilities Act, Allen County 911 is equipped with TTY (Text Telephone/Telephone Device for the Deaf) equipment at every call taking position to assist hearing and speech impaired callers. The TTY/TDD technology is built into the phone system to enable seamless communication with callers who have the need to use a TTY/TDD to communicate. All of our telecommunicators are thoroughly trained in the use of a TTY/TDD, as well as continuously trained throughout the year to maintain proficiency in the use of the equipment.




When does the Allen County Sheriff’s Office conduct VIN Inspection and what documents are required?


Deputies will do a VIN inspection in between routine and emergency calls as time allows. VIN Inspections can be done any time day or night. Please have the vehicle, the title, picture ID and $20 ready before you call to arrange the inspection.




I don’t have an emergency but don’t know the business number.


Dispatch can be reached at 620-365-1437. If you call 911 please start your sentence with I don’t have an emergency. Depending on the call volume telecommunicators will either assist you or suggest you call the business line and will provide the number.




When my power goes out who do I call?


You are encouraged to call your electric provider direct, for the city of Iola, Gas and LaHarpe the Communications Center answers afterhours utility calls. You are welcome to call 620-365-1437 and we will contact the on call provider for you. If you are powered by Westar or Heartland please call them direct as we have no backdoor channels to report outages.




When there is a storm and my power goes out I call the Communications Center asking how much longer the power will be out and they never have an answer.


Rest assured crews work diligently to restore power however when they are onsite dispatch does not have radio communication with the crews. The electric department will check in with dispatch in between restorations to give updates and check to see if other areas are impacted by the storm but those updates come only as time allows. Sometimes the electric department doesn’t know how long the outage will be as it all depends on the amount of damage done. The Communications Center averages 300-500 calls during a storm and we like to give them all priority so please remain patient and limit your reports to the Communications Center to new outages only. We thank our journeymen for weathering the storm to restore power.





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