9-1-1 Fast Facts

All Calls Annually:

An estimated 200 million calls to 9-1-1 in the U.S. each year. (Last available statistic is 190 million in 1999.)

Population Covered:

99%      (at least basic 9-1-1)

Geographic U.S. Covered:

96%      (at least basic 9-1-1)

Who Doesn’t Have 9-1-1:

175 counties, representing 2.4 million people, do not have any 9-1-1. 428 counties do not have enhanced 9-1-1.

Basic 9-1-1:

Basic 9-1-1 means that when the three-digit number is dialed, a calltaker/dispatcher in the local public safety answering point (PSAP), or 9-1-1 center, answers the call.  The emergency and its location are communicated by voice (or TTY) between the caller and the calltaker. 

Enhanced 9-1-1:

In areas serviced by enhanced 9-1-1, the local 9-1-1 center has equipment and database information that allow the calltaker to see the caller’s phone number and address on a display. The term “enhanced 9-1-1” is not synonymous with wireless 9-1-1.

Wireless Calls Annually

50 million (1999)

Wireless Phase I:

Wireless phase I is the first step in providing better emergency response service to wireless 9-1-1 callers.  When phase I has been implemented, a wireless 9-1-1 call comes into the PSAP with the wireless phone call-back number.  This is important in the event the wireless phone call is dropped, and may even allow PSAP employees to work with the wireless company to identify the wireless subscriber.  Phase I also delivers the cell site/face info, which may be more beneficial in actual use than the call-back number.

Wireless Phase II:

To locate wireless 9-1-1 callers, phase II must have been implemented in the area by local 9-1-1 systems and wireless carriers.  Phase II allows calltakers to receive both the caller’s wireless phone number and their location information. 

Wireless PSAP Readiness: Before wireless 9-1-1 phase II can be implemented in an area, the PSAP must demonstrate that it is ready to take wireless 9-1-1 calls.

  1. A mechanism is in place by which the PSAP will recover its costs of the facilities and equipment necessary to receive and utilize the E9-1-1 data elements;
  2. The PSAP has ordered the equipment necessary to receive and utilize the E9-1-1 data and the equipment will be installed and capable of receiving and utilizing that data no later than six months following its request; and
  3. The PSAP has made a timely request to the appropriate local exchange carrier (LEC) for the necessary trunking and other facilities, including any necessary automatic location identification (ALI) database upgrades, to enable the E9-1-1 data to be transmitted to the PSAP.

Wireless 9-1-1 Progress:

Some Phase I—1360 jurisdictions**
Some Phase II—33 jurisdictions**  

What is the Delay with Wireless 9-1-1? It is difficult to generalize.  Implementing wireless 9-1-1 is a complicated process, requiring the effective, timely and willing cooperation of an array of stakeholders, along with potential changes and enhancements to network infrastructure and PSAP equipment.  Any piece of that can delay the process.  It should be emphasized, however, that implementation across the country is accelerating. 

Total 9-1-1 Centers

5,000 primary; A primary 9-1-1 center, or public safety answering point (PSAP) is one to which 9-1-1 calls are routed directly from the 9-1-1 control office. Secondary PSAPs are those to which 9-1-1 calls may be transferred.

Who Runs 9-1-1:

Usually, 9-1-1 is run by local county/city government or public safety departments. Some states have statewide 9-1-1 systems or mandate 9-1-1 at the state level. There is no national governing agency for 9-1-1 in the U.S.

9-1-1 Call Response Times:

It is a common misconception that “9-1-1 responds to calls for help.”  9-1-1 answers and processes calls for help, often dispatching the appropriate responders.  While there is no standard for the processing time of 9-1-1 calls, some 9-1-1 centers recognize the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) standard that follows:


30 seconds to answer calls 95% of the time


60 seconds to dispatch the call


90 seconds total from answering the call to dispatch 

For information on police, fire and EMS response times, please contact the appropriate organizations.  There has been no national study of actual 9-1-1 call processing times.

Finding Information on 9-1-1:

Finding information and statistics on 9-1-1 is difficult because there is no central collection point the information, with the exception of NENA’s surveying and research. In addition, 9-1-1 is very segmented, that is, its run at the city, county, and sometimes state, level. That means everyone does things a little differently, making it difficult to compile survey information.

What NENA Is:

A not-for-profit corporation, the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) is the only educational organization dedicated solely to the study, advancement and implementation of 9-1-1 as America’s universal emergency number. With the participation of a wide variety of stakeholders and public safety entities, NENA has an individual membership of more than 7,000 public safety executives, and is organized into 46 chapters.  The organization strives to provide an effective and accessible 9-1-1 service for North America, measuring its success in the lives saved by 9-1-1 each day. NENA also develops recommended operating standards and protocol for 9-1-1 services from its headquarters in Columbus, Ohio. Click on About NENA to learn more.