9-1-1 or 1-1-2? What Should You Use?

Bethlehem, PA

450px-911signRecently, there have been social media posts indicating that people should call 1-1-2 from their cell phone to report an emergency.  The posts specifically indicate this may be useful if you are being pulled over and are not certain it is the police.  The thread goes on to claim that 1-1-2 will be answered faster, and some threads claim that your call will be routed directly to the police.  These claims are simply not true.

The reality is that 1-1-2 is the European Emergency number.  Several wireless carriers sell cellular devices in both the 9-1-1 area (U.S. & Canada) and in the 1-1-2 area (Europe).

To ensure that customers are able to call for emergency help in all three markets, the wireless carriers who sell these devices convert the emergency number dialed to the appropriate local emergency number.  In simpler terms, if you call 1-1-2 from one of these devices in the U.S. and Canada, the carrier network may convert the call to 9-1-1 and route it to the appropriate 9-1-1 Center.  There is no guarantee that this will work, however.  Dialing 1-1-2 will not provide any special emergency call handling, and should not be used to seek help in any emergency in U.S. or Canada, even if your device or carrier supports it.

Anyone in the United States or Canada facing a genuine emergency is encouraged to dial 9-1-1 and no other number.  Never call 1-1-2 just to test if it works from your device.  You will tie up public safety resources and waste valuable time for people facing real emergencies.

If you are ever being pulled over by a vehicle you are unsure is a legitimate law enforcement officer, it is acceptable to slow your speed, activate your emergency flashers and drive slowly to a well-lit, populated are such as a gas station or convenience store.  All law enforcement officers in Pennsylvania are required to display an outward badge of authority when conducting a traffic stop.  This will typically be a badge or a patch on a uniform. It is acceptable to ask to see this required badge.


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