Calling For Assistance

Help Us Help You

When to Call 911

  • There is a life or death emergency that requires the immediate response of emergency services such as police, fire or paramedics.
  • Always call 911 when there is a medical problem or something that requires the Norfolk Fire-Medic to respond.

Text to 911

Text messaging is one of the primary ways people communicate today, especially young people and members of the hearing and speech impaired community. There are approximately 54 million people with disabilities in the United States, and 34 million of those are hard of hearing, deaf or speech impaired. Text to 911 could also help in situations where a crime is in process, or when a caller is facing domestic abuse, or the caller is injured and cannot speak. There are many scenarios. 

  • Must have a text capable wireless phone and a wireless service plan (required). Cannot send a Text to 911 message without a service contract.
  • Text emergencies only! Non-emergencies must call 757-441-5610.
  • Do not send photos and videos – 911 is not capable of receiving these items.
  • Do not abbreviate words, do not use slang. 
  • Do not us smileys, emojis or emoticons!
  • Do not Group Text when texting 911.
  • The message length is limited – be short and to the point 
  • Texting can be delayed a few seconds (about 5 to 10 seconds), takes a little more time for reply exchanges.
  • Do not text to more than one person during your emergency and do not text to more than one 911 center while you are texting your emergency.

When to Call the Non-Emergency Number 

  • There is a situation that requires police response but is not an emergency.
  • Non-emergency lines are for crimes not in progress or other situations requiring a police response but are non-life threatening (i.e. loud parties, a group of juveniles loitering in front of your home, neighbor disputes, etc.)

The non-emergency number is 757-441-5610.


Regardless of how you call for assistance, be prepared to answer a few quick questions:

  • Tell the Telecommunicator what kind of assistance you need - Police, Fire, or a medic - and why.
  • The location of the emergency - If your address is different from the location of the crime, be sure to let the operator know the following:
    • Address
    • City
    • Landmarks
    • Mile Marker
    • Street intersection, etc.
  • We will always ask for your name; however, you are not required to provide it and may remain anonymous as a concerned citizen.
  • Your phone number, including area code so we can call you back if we get disconnected.
  • If possible, give a suspect description, weapons, if any, and vehicle description and license (download a description form (PDF)).

Things to Remember

  • Stay calm and speak clearly. When a caller is upset, it is hard to understand what he or she is saying or to get vital information quickly.
  • Do not hang up until the Telecommunicator has obtained all the required information and has instructed you to do so.
  • If you are calling from a cell phone and the signal is lost, your call may be disconnected. Be sure to give us your phone number so we may call you back.
  • When calling for assistance on a cellular phone, be sure to safely stop if you are in a moving vehicle. It may be difficult to obtain all of the information needed if you are getting further from the location of the emergency and you may need to be transferred to another agency.