The Dorchester County E911 Dispatch Center is managed and operated by the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office.
The center includes (7) 9-1-1 positions staffed with dispatchers trained at the national and state level to provide service to callers in a multitude of different emergency scenarios.
Dispatch Management Staff work very closely with the Emergency Management Department; the Communications Support Division provides first-line diagnostics to its technology, from the computers to the radio consoles and the E911 GIS Division maintains the mapping data. Both divisions are on call 24/7 to provide emergency technical support.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is 9-1-1?
Nine-one-one (9-1-1) is the number most people in the U.S. and some in International countries call to get help in a police, fire or medical emergency. In some places, you may be able to be connected with Poison Control by calling 9-1-1, but you should check with local officials in your area to make sure. A 9-1-1 call goes over dedicated networks to the appropriate 9-1-1 answering point (PSAP) for the caller's location, and trained personnel then send the emergency help needed.
Enhanced 9-1-1, or E9-1-1, is a system which routes an emergency call to the appropriate PSAP for the caller's location, AND automatically displays the caller's phone number and address. The 9-1-1 call taker will typically ask the caller to verify the information, which appears on his or her computer screen. Our center is equipped with Phase 2 wireless technology, allowing us to “track” the location of the cellular phone.
How do I make a 9-1-1 call?
In an emergency, dial 9-1-1 on your phone. You can use any kind of phone: push button, rotary, cellular/wireless, cordless, or pay phone. (With some pay phones, you may need coins to get a dial tone)
- Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phones function slightly different than a regular land line or cell phone. Please click on this public service announcement (Versión en Español) for a brief description, or for more information visit the Federal Communications Commission.
- Stay calm and state your emergency.
- Speak loudly and clearly. Give the 9-1-1 call taker your address/location where help is needed, name, and phone number.
- Answer the call taker's questions. Stay on the telephone if it's safe to do so, and don't hang up until the call taker tells you to.
- Texting to 9-1-1 is not available at this time in Dorchester County.
Who pays for 9-1-1?
In Dorchester County each household and business pays a small monthly fee for 9-1-1 service that appears on their phone bill; there is no per-call charge for calling 9-1-1. For cellular phone calls, each call is billed by their respective service provider. EMS/ambulances dispatched through 9-1-1 charge for taking someone to the hospital; this is a separate ambulance charge, not a 9-1-1 charge.
When should you use 9-1-1?
9-1-1 is only to be used in emergency situations. An emergency is any situation that requires immediate assistance from the police/sheriff, the fire department or an ambulance. If you are ever in doubt of whether a situation is an emergency you should call 9-1-1. It's better to be safe and let the 9-1-1 call taker determine if you need emergency assistance.
Do not call 9-1-1:
- for general non-emergency information
- for directory assistance
- when you're bored and just want to talk
- for paying traffic tickets
- for your pet
- as a prank
If you call 9-1-1 by mistake, do not hang up. Tell the call taker what happened so they know there really isn't an emergency.
9-1-1 prank calls
It's a prank call when someone calls 9-1-1 for a joke, or calls 9-1-1 and hangs up. Prank calls not only waste time and money, but can also be dangerous. If 9-1-1 lines or call takers are busy with prank calls, someone with a real emergency may not be able to get the help they need. In most places, it's against the law to make prank 9-1-1 calls.
Section 23-47-80 in State of South Carolina code of laws states:
It is unlawful for a person anonymously or otherwise to:
(1) Use any words or language of a profane, vulgar, lewd, lascivious, or indecent nature on an emergency 911 number with the intent to intimidate or harass a dispatcher;
(2) Telephone the emergency 911 number, whether or not conversation ensues for the purpose of annoying or harassing the dispatcher or interfering with or disrupting emergency 911 service;
(3) Make a telephone call to a 911 dispatcher and intentionally fail to hang up or disengage the connection for the purpose of interfering with or disrupting emergency service;
(4) Telephone the emergency 911 number and intentionally make a false report.
A person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned not more than six months or fined not more than two hundred dollars, or both.
What if a 9-1-1 caller doesn't speak English?
When necessary, a 9-1-1 call taker can add an interpreter from an outside service to the line. A non-English speaking caller may hear a short conversation in English and some clicking sounds as the interpreter is added to the line.
What if a 9-1-1 caller is Deaf or hearing/speech impaired?
9-1-1 call takers are trained to answer emergency calls from persons who are deaf or hearing/speech impaired.
If you use a TTY/TDD:
- Stay calm, place the phone receiver in the TTY, dial 9-1-1.
- After the call is answered, press the TTY keys several times. This may help shorten the time necessary to respond to the call.
- Give the call taker time to connect their TTY. If necessary, press the TTY keys again. The 9-1-1 call taker should answer and type "GA" for Go Ahead.
- Tell what is needed-police, fire department, or ambulance. Give your name, phone number and the address or location where help is needed.
- Stay on the telephone if it is safe. Answer the call taker's questions.
If you use a VRS (Video Relay Service) or IP (Internet Protocol) Relay:
- Register and provide your address with the relay provider of your choice. Keep your address updated.
- Be aware that relay calls may take several minutes to connect. If you hang up, your call may not be connected to 9-1-1.
- Be prepared to provide your location information using an address, cross streets or landmarks, since relay calls may not display your location.
- Answer the call taker's questions.
- You may need to be transferred to another 9-1-1 center. Stay on the call if it is safe.
If you do not have a TTY/TDD or access to Relay services, you should dial 9-1-1, preferably from a landline/home phone. Do not hang up, keep the line open. With 9-1-1 calls made from a home phone, the caller's address is displayed on the call taker's screen, the call taker can listen for background noise, and help will be sent to the location displayed. As a last resort, call from a cell phone and leave the line open, your approximate location may be displayed.
Guest speakers for a school, business or civic group function
If you are interested in having a guest speaker at your function, contact Lori Miller by email (lhenerey@dorchestercountySC.gov) or phone at (843) 832-0300 Ext 5267.