E911 Communications


Every day, millions of people depend on the skill, expertise and commitment of the men and women who work as public safety telecommunicators.

The Adams County Sheriff’s Office Communications Center, housed at the Sheriff’s Office in Ritzville is a 24-hour, 365-day-a-year operation, and is the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) responsible for answering all 9-1-1 calls that originate from within Adams County. The Adams County Sheriff’s Office Communications Center is also responsible for a police, fire and medical dispatch response area that covers just under 2,000 square miles with a population of over 19,000. Adams County Sheriff’s Office Communications Center personnel monitor various police, fire and EMS radio channels.

Adams County Sheriff’s Office Communications dispatches calls for service for Adams County Sheriff’s Office, Ritzville Police Department , Ritzville Fire/Adams County Fire Protection District # 1, Lind Fire/Adams County Fire Protections District # 2, Washtucna Fire/Adams County Fire Protection District # 7 and East Adams Rural Hospital/Adams County Hospital District # 2 Ambulance Service which includes Ritzville, Lind and Washtucna.

The dedicated professionals of the Othello Police Department Communications Center dispatch calls for service for Othello Police Department, Adams County Fire Protection District # 5, and Othello Community Hospital/ Adams County Hospital District # 1 Ambulance Service.

Dispatchers at Adams County Sheriff’s Office Communications Center receive a variety of calls, ranging from cold crimes to in-progress calls to medical and fire related calls. Each Dispatcher is trained in providing Emergency Medical Dispatching (EMD). On many occasions Dispatchers have had to provide CPR instructions, provide child birth instructions and assist callers with other medical related needs. The Dispatchers at Adams County Sheriff’s Office are highly trained, all having completed a nearly 6 month program in order to work there.

For additional information about Adams County Sheriff’s Office Communications Center, contact Angie Fode, E911 Communications Manager or to schedule a presentation from the E911 Public Educators at Adams County Sheriff’s Office at 509-659-1122. Presentations can be given to any group, no matter the age, from preschool to Senior Citizens.

Things You Should Know About 9-1-1

When should I call 9-1-1?
9-1-1 should be used to report an emergency. An emergency is when police, fire or ambulance assistance is needed immediately to save someone’s life or property. Examples of emergencies could include a car accident with injuries, a crime in progress, calls where someone’s life is at risk, a fire, or a medical situation.

When not to call 9-1-1
Do not call 9-1-1 if you are seeking information or want to report such things as power outages or malfunctioning railroad signals, to report an incident that occurred hours before, or as a prank. For these types of calls, use 659-1122 for the Adams County Sheriff’s Off in Ritzville, 488-2061 for the Adams County Sheriff’s Office in Othello, 659-1313 for the Ritzville Police Department, and 488-3314 for the Othello Police Department.


When the 9-1-1 dispatcher answers the phone, information is displayed on his/her phone system similar to caller ID. If you have a standard phone the display will show the name, address, and phone number you are calling from.

If you are calling from a cell phone, the display will only show your phone number, the name of your cell carrier, and the position of the cell tower your phone is using. It does not display your name, nor does it show the address where you are located. So it is extremely important, when calling from a cell phone, that you know where you are so you can tell the 9-1-1 Center. This includes the new VoIP (i.e. Vonage, Magic Jack, etc.) phones you may carry. Did you know that the address associated with your computer internet provider is the one that appears on the 9-1-1 display in the center? So it’s always important that an accurate location be given.


What if the caller doesn’t speak English?
Each 9-1-1 Center in Washington State has the ability to connect non-English speaking callers with an interpreter. Adams County Sheriff’s Office Communications Center does not however have the ability to connect your call with an interpreter when the non-emergency number is dialed instead of 9-1-1.


What if I’m deaf?
If you are speech or hearing impaired, each center has the capability to communicate with you via the TDD (telephone device for the deaf). The display on the 9-1-1 phone system shows the words you are typing. The dispatcher is then able to respond to your inquiries or ask additional questions. If you use this form of communication, please advise the Adams County Sheriff’s Office Communication Center so they are aware of it.


Can I text 911?
At this time, it is not possible to correspond with 911 telecommunicators by text message anywhere in the State of Washington. If you attempt to send a text to 911 you will most likely receive an error message from your cellular provider.


Why so many questions?
The people who answer 9-1-1 calls are trained professionals and will ask key questions for the specific situation you are calling about.

The first few questions are always the same.
“What’s the address of the emergency?”
“What is the phone number you are calling from?”
“What is the problem, tell me exactly what happened.”

This determines what type of assistance is needed: law enforcement, fire, or medical.
· If the police are needed, you will be asked a specific line of questions for police incidents.
· If you need an ambulance, the questions help determine how the EMTs and firefighters respond to your emergency.
· If you are reporting a fire, there will be fewer questions.

It is important for you to answer all the questions to the best of your ability, even if you don’t understand why they are being asked. If you don’t know the answer, simply say so.


What if I dialed 9-1-1 by mistake?
This is a common occurrence when people put their cell phones in a purse or pocket or when children play with a phone. If you accidentally dial 9-1-1, please stay on the line and tell the dispatcher what happened. Otherwise the dispatcher will spend time calling you back to make certain there is no emergency.