What to expect when you call 9-1-1

There is no way to know when you might have a true emergency. It just happens. You’re involved in a car wreck. A loved one has severe chest pains or stroke symptoms. An accident at home or work leaves you or another person bleeding severely. You’re pregnant and your water breaks while you are alone. Lightning or an electrical short starts a fire in your house. Here is what to expect when you dial 911.

Where does my call go when I dial 9-1-1?

In Harris County, your 9-1-1 call first goes to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office 9-1-1 Center which determines your location and the nature of your call. If Cypress Creek EMS and/or one of the Fire Departments in our coverage area is needed, the call is immediately transferred to us. Please note: We are required to verify your location and contact information. You will be asked to confirm it upon transfer from HCSO.

When Seconds Count…The Clock Starts Here

A call-taker gets more detailed information while a dispatcher sends help to your location. Staying on the line answering questions never slows down the emergency response. Another person is taking care of that as soon as the information is in the computer system.

We know your situation is stressful but please try to stay as calm as possible. Do not yell at the call-taker or hang up. Our call-takers are here to help you and can offer lifesaving instructions over the phone.

Fire trucks may show up on medical calls, too

Bear in mind that eight fire departments in our coverage area, who also have paramedics and EMTs, run with us on the most serious medical calls.

CCEMS fire dispatchers spend a considerable amount of their time dispatching Firefighter/EMTs to medical calls. Nationally, nearly 65% of the calls all fire departments ran in 2018 were medical in nature.

In our area, nine fire departments run medical calls with CCEMS. Spring Fire runs the most medical calls in our area. In 2019, Spring was dispatched to 7,253 Calls and 4,823 or nearly 67% were medical calls. CCEMS handles 9-1-1 and dispatch for six of the departments that run medical calls with us. Here’s the fire vs.medical breakdown for those departments which are Spring, Klein, Champions, Cypress Creek, Ponderosa, and Little York.

CCEMS answers the 9-1-1 calls and handles dispatch for six of the departments that run medical calls with us. See the full list below.

What if it’s a potential COVID-19 case

Your call taker will ask you a series of questions to determine whether there is a potential that the patient has COVID-19 or if anyone on the scene has been exposed to COVID-19.

This is to help keep our crews safe, so the dispatcher can tell them to don Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) upon arrival on the scene. There will be a slight delay as the medics put on their PPE before exiting the ambulance.

If possible, move the patient outside to meet the medics.

Please be advised that hospitals are NOT testing every patient in the Emergency Room. Hospitals are only testing patients with symptoms severe enough to be admitted.

Here are some links to information on COVID-19 testing sites.


Testing near you: https://bit.ly/2Z3GJUd

While help is on the way, here are some DOs and DON’Ts.

Don’t move anyone who was in a car accident or fall, or who is unconscious unless leaving them there creates an immediate threat such as a car catching fire.

Do Stop the Bleeding

Don’t give them anything to eat or drink (unless you’re told to).

Do have someone watching for the ambulance and flagging them down.

Do clear a path between the street and the entrance to your location so the paramedics can move freely with whatever equipment they need, including a stretcher. You may have to move cars, furniture, etc.

Do turn on the house and porch lights if it’s dark.

Do unlock any doors paramedics will need to go through.

Do put pets away. We don’t want anyone getting bitten or a pet escaping your house.

Do CPR if the operator tells you to. The call taker can walk you through it. CPR greatly enhances the chance of survival for someone in cardiac arrest.

Don’t worry, today’s CPR methods DO NOT involve mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. CPR is now HANDS ONLY.

Don’t be afraid to help a stranger. Good Samaritan laws are in place to protect your good faith efforts.

Once the Paramedics and EMTs arrive they will need information such as…

  • What are the symptoms?
  • When did they start?
  • Did they start gradually or come on suddenly?
  • Has any action been taken to help alleviate the symptoms?

Preparation that will help in case you ever have to call 9-1-1

  • Make sure we can find your location. Make sure your house or business address is clearly visible. The numbers should be easy to see from the street. What unique features does your house or business have that would make it stand out?
  • Always know your location. What if the emergency happens while you are driving, at a friend’s house, or in a store? Be aware of cross streets, landmarks, mile markers when you are out.
  • Make a list. Write down important information including your name, date of birth, medications, allergies, and major medical issues and put it in a visible location such as on your refrigerator. Keep an extra copy in your wallet. If you have a chronic illness like diabetes or epilepsy, consider wearing a medical ID.
  • Hide a key. If you are incapacitated, you’ll want to be able to tell the dispatcher how to get into your house. Pick a key location that’s concealed but not obvious.
  • Take a CPR, First Aid, and Stop the Bleed class to increase your readiness. CPR and First Aid classes are inexpensive. Stop The Bleed classes are free.
  • Don’t be afraid to call 9-1-1. Don’t waste time doubting. Make the call. Obviously, if someone is not conscious, not breathing, or is bleeding severely, you need to make the call now. If it’s a serious car wreck or fire, make the call.
  • Educate your children on 9-1-1. Give them some examples of when it’s appropriate to call 9-1-1. Make sure they know their address in case they are the ones who have to call.

About the Cypress Creek EMS Communications Center

The CCEMS Comm Center is the 9-1-1 and dispatch facility for 17 emergency agencies including 12 fire departments, the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office, and the Harris County Hazardous Materials Team. It is also the Regional Communications Center for the South East Texas Regional Advisory Council (SETRAC), and Emergency Medical Task Force Region 6 (EMTF6). The Comm Center serves as a Secondary Public Safety Answering Point (SPSAP) in the Greater Harris County 9-1-1 network.

All CCEMS dispatchers are certified by the International Academy of Emergency Dispatchers in Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) and Emergency Fire Dispatch (EFD). In addition, some are EMTs or Paramedics.

Fire departments that run medical calls with CCEMS

  • Champions Fire
  • Cypress Creek Fire
  • Eastex Fire*
  • Klein Fire
  • Little York Fire
  • Ponderosa Fire
  • Spring Fire
  • Northwest Fire*
  • Woodlands Fire*

*CCEMS handles 9-1-1 and dispatch for all those departments except Eastex, Northwest, and The Woodlands.

Cypress Creek also handles 9-1-1 and dispatch for the following agencies…

  • ESD 48 Fire-EMS-Rescue
  • Westlake Fire Department
  • Community Fire Department
  • Harris County Fire Marshal
  • Harris County Hazardous Materials
  • South East Texas Regional Advisory Council (SETRAC)
  • Emergency Medical Task Force 6 (EMTF6)
  • Pearland Fire Department
  • Stafford Fire Department
  • Willowfork Fire Department

The CCEMS Communications Center was named best in the state in 2017. You can read about that at https://ccemsnews.com/2017/11/22/comm-center-award/