Have you ever had to call 911? You probably know your call is recorded, but you may not know when it starts. It actually surprised me.

I found this out from a friend after telling them a story about how I needed to call 911 this last year. Fortunately, I think I've only had to call for an emergency a few times.

While I dialed 911, I was talking with my wife about the situation unfolding when the phone rang. I always assumed that the recording started when the dispatcher answered.

Man monitoring cctv cameras in modern control room
Izabela Zaremba

When does dispatch start recording?

No, that's not the case. As soon as finish dialing, it starts recording. Even before you hear it ring on the other end, as soon as the call is connected they are recording everything you say.

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It's a good thing they do because seconds matter in an emergency, so don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining about it. But just be aware that while the phone is ringing, they'll even have a recording of what's going on on your end of the phone.

Portrait of a happy paramedica carrying a portable oxygen unit

Tips for calling 911

If you do need to call for an emergency, here are some important tips to know from the National Emergency Number Association

  • Don't hang up, even if you call by mistake
  • Stay calm and answer all questions
  • Know the location of the emergency
  • teach your children how to call 911
  • post your address clearly and prominently at your entrance and on your home

You can find more tips and helpful information at nena.org.

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