Dispatch and 9-1-1

  • South Clatsop County Communications                                

 Seaside 9-1-1 serves all of south Clatsop County and east up Highway 26 to Saddle Mountain. If you live in Hamlet, Arch Cape, Cannon Beach, Seaside, Gearhart and the south end of Warrenton, we will answer your phone call. We dispatch calls for police and fire, though your medical calls are transferred to Medix Ambulance Service.

Seaside's Communications Center began radio dispatching for Seaside and Gearhart Fire Departments in the 1950's. We were the first to radio dispatch for a fire department in Clatsop County. In 1972, Seaside was the second city in the state to acquire 9-1-1.

We acquired our current transmit site atop Tillamook Head in 1988. The site provided better radio communications to our outlying areas.

Seaside, along with the rest of the State of Oregon, has Enhanced 9-1-1. Hard wired land-line 9-1-1 calls display the phone address and call back number. Our technology will now display locations for Phase-2 cellular 9-1-1 calls.

Staffing consists of a Communications Manager and 6.5 dispatchers. We also utilize support staff, who are cross-trained and certified to augment communications as necessary. This staffing level allows for primarily two dispatchers on duty, other than early morning hours. Our dispatchers and support staff also serve as receptionists for our agency.

Questions About 9-1-1

 9-1-1 is for emergencies: a threat to life or injury, a fire, stop a crime in progress. 9-1-1 is to be used when you need assistance immediately.

Some examples for using 9-1-1:
Heart attack, stroke, or other serious medical problem
Someone having difficulty breathing or is unconscious
A verbal or physical fight/disturbance
Following an intoxicated driver

  • What if I call 9-1-1 by mistake?

Do not hang up. Please stay on the line and let the 9-1-1 dispatcher know that you called by mistake. If you hang up, we will send an officer to your location to verify everything is all right.

  • Is there a non-emergency number?

Our business phone number is 503-738-6311. You can dial it anytime 24 hours/day. You will get the same dispatchers as when you call 9-1-1 but it helps us prioritize emergencies and also doesn't tie up our limited amount of 9-1-1 lines.

Some examples when you should use 503-738-6311:
Your house was burglarized yesterday
Your car was stolen overnight
There is a loose or barking dog
You want to talk to an officer about a report they are working on

  • How does my call get to 9-1-1?

When you call from a phone installed at a residence, business, or a pay phone, your call will go to the 9-1-1 Center that dispatches the Fire Department to your location, not necessarily the Police or Sheriff. Your location and telephone number should show up on our computer when you call but we do need to verify that information with you. Depending on your location and type of call, we may need to transfer your call to another dispatch center.

When you call from a cell phone, your call will go to the 9-1-1 Center that is closest to the cell tower that you connected to. Your call may end up at the wrong 9-1-1 Center in which case you would need to be transferred. Your telephone number should show up on our computer (for most, but not all cell phones) when you call but we do need to verify that information with you. Some newer phones also allow us to see where you are (using GPS) but again, we need to verify that information with you.

  • What should I expect when I call 9-1-1?

Once you reach 9-1-1, the dispatcher will ask you questions to determine what type of help to send. It is very important for you to remain calm and speak clearly. We will often get just enough information from you to dispatch our units to the emergency, ask you to hold the line while we dispatch our units, then return to you for more detailed information. Answering questions does not delay a response.

In some locations, responses for various types of calls may come from more than one jurisdiction. In those cases, you might speak to more than one dispatcher as each 9-1-1 Center involved gathers the information they need. If you need an ambulance, we will ask for your location, phone number, and nature of the call and then transfer you to Medix Ambulance Service. While you are talking to Medix, we will be dispatching the Fire Rescue team depending on the nature of the call. It may seem like time is being wasted by you having to answer the same questions by multiple dispatchers, but we are actually saving precious time by dispatching the Fire Rescue team instead of calling Medix Ambulance ourselves.

Some common questions you may be asked:

  • Where is the emergency?
  • What is the emergency?
  • What is your phone number?
  • When did this happen?
  • Who is involved and descriptions of them?
  • Vehicle descriptions and direction of travel?
  • Are there any weapons involved or available to the suspect?
  • What is your name?
  • Where are you calling from?

Keep your answers as short and direct as possible and please REMAIN CALM.

An exact address is best. If that's not available, cross streets, name or type of building, landmarks, or any other way of figuring out how to get you the help you need.

Never compromise your safety. Do not do anything the dispatcher tells you to do if that will put you or someone else in harm.

When calling 9-1-1 on a cellular phone, be sure to stop if you are in a moving vehicle. It is difficult to obtain all of the information needed if you are getting further away from the emergency.

Hearing Impaired or Non-English Speaking callers:
If you are hearing or speech impaired, South Clatsop County Communications 9-1-1 center is equipped with a Text Telephone (TTY) device to allow communication through your TTY device.

If you do not speak English, we will contact the AT&T Language Line to provide an interpreter. It helps us if you are able to tell us the name of the language you speak in English, so we can tell AT&T which interpreter to choose.


The EMDs (EMERGENCY MEDICAL DISPATCHER) priority is to provide and assist the caller with pre-arrival instructions to help the victim, using standardized protocols developed in co-operation with local medical directors. Such instructions may consist of simple advice to keep the patient calm and comfortable or to gather additional background information for responding paramedics. The instructions can also frequently become more complex, providing directions over the telephone for an untrained person to perform CPR, for example. Examples of EMDs guiding family members through assisting a loved one with the process of childbirth prior to the arrival of the ambulance are also quite common. The challenge for the EMD is often the knowledge level of the caller. In some cases, the caller may have prior first-aid and/or CPR training, but it is often just as likely that the caller has no prior training or experience at all. This process may still consist of a symptom-based flip-card system, but is increasing automated into the CAD software.


Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can I call 9-1-1 on my cell phone and is there a cost involved?
A: Yes, you can call 9-1-1 on your cell phone even if you do not have that phone activated on an account. It is free to call 9-1-1 on your cell phone.

Q: Does the 9-1-1 dispatcher know my phone number?
A: Most of the time, but not always. We should know your number from land based phones and some newer cell phones. You should never assume the dispatcher knows though. Sometimes databases are wrong or the information does not get to us properly.

Q: Does the 9-1-1 dispatcher know my location?
A: We should know your location from land based phones and some newer cell phones. You should never assume the dispatcher knows though. Sometimes databases are wrong or the information does not get to us properly.

Q: Is there anything I can do if I have access to a phone but can't talk due to a dangerous situation?
A: Yes! Some emergencies make it difficult to talk out loud or stay on the phone with us. For example, talking on the phone while there is an intruder in your house can be difficult. It could be possible to receive help by calling 9-1-1, setting the phone down but not hanging it up, and then hide in a closet. Another possibility is that some cell phones will call 9-1-1 if you hold down a key for a minute (check your manual.) Remember, do whatever is safest for you and don't assume this will work or make this a common practice.

Q: What if I don’t know where I am when I call 9-1-1?
A: Look for landmarks, large buildings, street signs, paperwork that may contain address information, or ask someone nearby!

Q: Why is the 911 dispatcher asking me so many questions?
A: Dispatchers ask questions so that they can give more information to responding units. This makes them better prepared and equipped for the emergency they are responding to. After units have been dispatched, Dispatchers will usually stay on the phone with you to continue to get more details that can be relayed to responding units.

Q: Why does the dispatcher transfer my call to another agency?
A: More than one agency may need to get involved or possibly your call may have reached the wrong agency. This may be because you connected to the wrong cell tower, your home is within our Fire district but not our Police district, or because of a technological malfunction.

Q: What do I do if I get disconnected?
A: Always try to call 9-1-1 back. We will attempt to contact you but we may not have received your phone number in the initial 9-1-1 call and may need additional information.

Q: Can I keep driving when I call 9-1-1 on a cellular phone?
A: It is usually best to pull over when calling 9-1-1, as there is less chance of the cell phone signal being dropped if in a stationary location. Additionally, any emergency instructions that need to be carried out can best be done while stopped. Finally, if help needs to reach you it is best to be in one place so help can get to you, instead of trying to meet them somewhere. If you cannot safely pull over to speak to 9-1-1 then stay calm, pay attention to the roadway with surrounding vehicles, and follow the Dispatcher’s instructions.

Q: Why is my phone accidentally calling 9-1-1?
A: Most cell phones have an auto 9-1-1 feature. If you hold down keys for a long enough amount of time, it will automatically dial 9-1-1. This happens a lot when phones are put into pockets or allowed to be played with by children. Help reduce accidental calls to 9-1-1 by locking your keypad whenever it is not in use.