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Calling 911:   What to do in an emergency

Stay calm – don’t shout into the phone or at arriving officers or medical professionals. They can’t understand you if you shout.


Ask for a CIT-trained officer.  Let them know this is a mental health crisis. 


On the phone: Be ready to give concrete examples of the dangerous behaviors and to support your contention that the person is mentally ill. For example, say, “My daughter pulled a knife” as opposed to “My daughter wants to kill me.”


Calmly state over the phone the following information and be ready to repeat it to arriving police officers and/or medical professionals:

  • Your name

  • Your address

  • Loved one’s name

  • Your relationship

  • Diagnosis

  • Medications (on or off) 

  • Describe what your family member is doing now

  • Prior history of psychosis

  • Any weapons in the area

  • Clothing description

  • Prior history of violence

  • Things that would help or worsen the situation


Until professionals arrive:

  • Be polite, respectful, reassuring, calm, and direct with your family member.

  • Maintain on-going communication directly with the person and do not include others in side conversations.

  • Do not try to trick or deceive your family member.

  • Avoid immediately moving in close or touching the person unless necessary.

  • Remove all objects with which a person may do harm to self or others.


When professionals arrive:

  • Have all the lights on inside the house.

  • Identify yourself.

  • Carry nothing in your hands especially coming outside to meet them, in which case walk, don’t run to meet them.

  • Don’t ramble.

  • Be prepared to repeat the information you gave over the phone.

  • State whether there is a history of suicide attempts.

  • State whether your family member is violent or delusional.

  • Have treating psychiatrist’s phone number handy.

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