7 Reasons 911 Should Not Be Your First Emergency Call

7 Reasons 911 Should Not Be Your First Emergency Call

When you think of encountering an emergency, you likely automatically think of dialing 911 for help. The problem here is that there are some unknown shortcomings when it comes to 911 centers, especially for property owners.

First, hats off to all 911 operators- well, except that gal in Houston. No hats for her, just handcuffs. Being an emergency operator can be a thankless job, one where your ‘customers’ are glad you answered the call, but never happy they had to make the call in the first place. This isn’t a bash session on 911 call centers, but simply an effort to highlight some of the hurdles they face and why, although considered the ‘go to’ in emergency response, 911 may not always be the best direct dial option. See why below.

Find out how to improve safety and reduce costs at your property

Our best-in-class emergency phone + monitoring solutions provide peace of mind and are backed by decades of expertise

Learn More

Prepare your property for emergencies with this free Emergency Action Plan download >>

1. Response time

It’s become a regular occurrence whereby delayed 911 response time makes headline news. Don’t believe me? Earlier this year, during a bank robbery in North Dallas, more than 180 calls were placed on hold with 911 for more than 8 minutes. Also this year, the Dallas 911 center reported having more than 360 calls on hold at one point resulting from an ongoing issue the city refers to as ghost calls.

2. Underfunded

911 centers are historically underfunded, taking in more calls as populations grow without additional funding to ramp up emergency operator headcount and monitoring center technology. Of course, dispatch shortages lead to slower response times.

3. Abuse

As if underfunding coupled with population growth weren’t enough, city 911 centers are also becoming abused more frequently. Abused? Yes, abused. As the security industry continues to grow and new innovative services hit the market, you can find in the details of these services the abuse I speak of. Does your home security app show you that someone you don’t know is on your doorstep? (So what, by the way). No worries, 911 will dispatch police or at least that’s what commercials would lead you to believe. New safety app on your phone? Assuming you can activate the alarm before being attacked, don’t fret; it rings direct to 911 and help is on the way. More than 95% of alarms are false. Imagine how this volume of false calls ties up valuable call time that is already on short supply. The abuse will be addressed eventually, of that I have no doubt. There is simply no scenario where these overworked and underfunded centers do not eventually take a stand that says, No business xyz, you cannot sell a solution that realizes a profit off the backs of a labor force that is not yours. And yet, I digress. It’s coming though.

4. Location identification

Ever dialed 911 from a cell phone? Did your local monitoring center run the same ‘Help Us Help You’ campaign that mine did, solely focused on making certain you know where you are and are notifying 911 at the onset of your call? It’s an unfortunate situation. Your cell phone pings the closest tower, which sometimes happens to be incongruent with your location address/municipality and rings to the incorrect 911 center, delaying response and sometimes contributing to fatal consequences. What’s more is callers are panicked and even if they are aware of their exact location, may sometimes have trouble communicating that during an emergency.

5. False call fines

If you’re a multifamily or commercial property manager and you have multiple false calls to 911, many municipalities charge false call fines.

6. Unnecessary damage

Okay so this is specialized, but think elevators here. If you have an elevator phone and it’s ringing direct to 911, I can guarantee 911 is not calling to dispatch your elevator maintenance company. They don’t even know who your elevator service company is. They’re calling the fire department. What’s the fire department doing when they arrive at your location? Likely, damaging your elevator doors. They have a job to do and preserving your property is simply not a priority. What’s typical damage to an elevator door going to run? More than you want to shell out and unbudgeted to boot.

7. Out of the loop

If you have a help phone on your property ringing directly to 911, you’re not going to be looped in the same way you should be with a specialized monitoring solution. If your phones are monitored by a third party, this is where you start to go back and review the value they provide. Are they keeping you informed? The nightly news, YouTube or Facebook may be the first time you hear about what happened under your nose. These are the worst kinds of surprises, particularly if they hit your bosses desk or corporate before they make their way to you.

911 needs our help

The appropriate emergency monitoring center really depends on the use, but one thing is clear, 911 needs our help. They need specialized emergency monitoring centers to screen calls and help identify and relay verified alarms. But why would I want to go through a middle man monitoring company before reaching 911? Pre-identifying verified alarms gives specialized emergency dispatch centers like Kings III a spot in the express line to reach an operator to dispatch local authorities, should that be needed. We’re not going through the same call channel that you or I would personally if we dialed 911. Our alarms have been verified via audio and are treated differently than a standard incoming call as a result.

What’s more? 911 centers receive all kinds of calls and you and your customers deserve a response and call handling specific to your scenario. At Kings III, we answer only emergency calls from specified help phones (think elevator, pool, parking garage, stairwell, area of refuge, etc.). We’re not a call center answering a variety of calls or a security company responding to alarm signals. If you’re using our equipment (the all-inclusive package is a no-brainer so not sure why you wouldn’t unless you simply crave additional on-the-job hassle), we can identify your location every time. In an elevator? We not only identify your location but also your cab. Using our cellular device? No problem. We don’t have the same issues you run into when typically calling from a cell phone because our devices are at a fixed location with location information stored at our emergency dispatch center and auto-identified when your call comes in. This means that the caller does not have to provide location information to the operator; ideal not only for those regularly on-site but also for guests of the property (and required in the elevator code). THE absolute best thing about our solution is the service you receive- our operators are among the best, Advanced Emergency Medical Dispatch (AEMD) certified and so able to provide pre-arrival instructions as needed among other high-touch services.

Enough of the Kings III services pitch. Check out the value-add and see for yourself. One thing is clear; 911 is not the best option for direct dial from your property and certainly not a sustainable one in the long term. Learn more about how we bridge the gap at

Building Your Emergency Action Plan


Six Ways to Rid Your Property of Crime

None of us want to deal with criminal activity, but in the case of property managers and building owners, who hold some liability for the safety of tenants and visitors, crime prevention is especially important. Here are six ways to help prevent crime on your property.

Kings III Makes The Dallas Morning News Top 100 Places to Work List

Kings III Emergency Communications, a privately-owned emergency help phone-monitoring company based in Coppell, was honored to be recognized by its employees and The Dallas Morning News by making the daily newspaper’s Top 100 Places to Work list, falling in at 26th in the midsize companies category.

San Diego Building Solves Telephony Service Issues While Realizing Substantial Savings

Have you encountered service issues and missed potential savings with your current telecom provider? There's a better way.

How Building Certifications May Attract Potential Tenants

Building certifications are an official way to set your property apart and authentically advertise its high quality and superior features. Getting certified can boost your building’s bottom line, further focus your marketing strategy and, ultimately, attract tenants. Here, we list some of the most popular and highly regarded building certifications in commercial real estate.

Dealing With Burglary as a Property Manager

Here are some ways you can prevent and report burglaries that could happen on your property in order to keep tenants safe and to reduce your own liability.

Emergency Response Quick Reference Guide

Emergencies can suddenly turn your safe, familiar, comfortable property into a danger zone, and it is essential to have places to turn to help you and your tenants get through it. Here is a list of good emergency resources to get you started.

6 Property Manager and Building Owner Liabilities

Your legal liability as a property manager and/or building owner may vary from state to state, but, generally speaking, there is a core of common liabilities that many in the industry face. Pay special attention to these common causes of property manager and building owner liabilities and act accordingly.

Hidden Telephony Costs May Be A Bigger Item Than You Think

Property managers are always looking to reduce waste and effectively forecast but many times it's the overlooked expenses that become a big ticket item.

Tips To Help Ensure Your Building Is Up To Code (In Any State)

When is the last time you stepped back and looked at the bigger picture of how your building syncs up with its building code and why this is so important? Here, we take a closer look at some of the more common building-code requirements and why the most obvious violations are often overlooked, even unintentionally.

Kings III makes it easy as a single point-of-contact for all your emergency response needs. With expertise in line connectivity, compliance codes, equipment maintenance and safety protocol, we offer the total package.