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City of Cambridge

Emergency Communications

Disptacher at counsole The Emergency Communications Department operates the City’s Combined Emergency Communications and 911 Center (ECC) located at the Robert W. Healy Public Safety Facility. The Center receives over 50,000 911 and other emergency calls and alarms annually and manages the coordinated dispatch of police, fire, emergency medical service (EMS) and other resources. ECC staff also handles over 165,000 non-emergency calls annually regarding quality-of-life issues related to noise, traffic, lost property and after-hours City information.

Tips and FAQs

911 System


The Enhanced 911 system automatically displays the address of the emergency caller and the telephone number at that location on a screen at the 911 Communications Center. This information allows the dispatcher to be able to send help in an emergency where a caller is not able to speak or has disconnected the call.

9-1-1 should be used for emergency purposes only. To see if school is closed during inclement weather please call (617) 349-6513 or listen to WBZ AM 1030 or the major TV stations.  Also check the city's homepage.

At the center all the information is displayed even though the caller has hung up. The 911 center will attempt a call-back to see if there is an emergency. The dispatcher may send a police unit to verify the situation. See the silent 911 call page for more information.

The Cambridge Emergency Communications Center has a connection with a Language Translation Service. This allows the call-taker to create a conference call and have a translator available within 1 minute that speaks one of hundreds of languages. This is a great asset to the 911 center.

View additional information on calling 911.

Domestic Violence Safety Plans


For some people in abusive relationships, developing a plan ahead of time is helpful to have during a violent incident or when they feel overwhelmed. Each situation is unique, so every safety plan is different. And a good safety plan changes over time, as your situation changes.

Below are some things to consider when thinking about your safety. These are ideas that other people in abusive relationships have found helpful and they may or may not work for you. It is your decision whether to make a safety plan, and what to include if you do make one. It may help to speak with someone with knowledge about domestic violence, such as a Domestic Violence Advocate. If you write your plan down, you might also consider where you keep it so your abuser does not have access to it
Strategies to Consider:
Talk with people you trust such as friends, family, neighbors and co-workers. Let them know what is happening and talk about ways they might be able to help.

Consider what you might do to increase safety during an argument or if you can tell abuse is coming. For example, some rooms in your home may be safer than others. You might move away from the kitchen because it has knives and other many sharp objects. Or you could try to stay close to a door, so you could run if you needed to.

Memorize the numbers you might need to use in an emergency, like 911, a friend’s or family member’s number, or the local hotline. In Massachusetts, you can call Safe link for support at 877-785-2020. Keep in mind that the person hurting you could take your cell phone from you, so memorizing numbers or keeping a list of numbers somewhere safe may be helpful.

Plan how you would get out of your home if you needed to.

Tell your children's school, day-care or camp who is authorized to pick up your children. Consider telling the people around you about someone you want to keep away. You do not need to say why, just ask them to keep an eye out or be aware.

If you have an order of protection, keep it with you at all times.

Plan what to do in various situations if the abuser confronts you ( a woman’s self defense class may be of use in this situation) .
Take threats seriously and report them. Threats are not only violations of a protective order, but also possible indicators of imminent danger. With this in mind, keep a log of dates and incidents. You may need this information later to prove your case in court.

Prepare an emergency bag. You may want to put together a bag that includes important documents and other items in case you need to leave quickly.

If you have decided to prepare an emergency bag, and have a place in mind where you can safely keep it, here is a list to help you decide what to put in the bag.
  • House keys
  • Car keys
  • Order of Protection
  • ATM card
  • Money
  • Checkbook
  • Credit card
  • Passport
  • Green card
  • Work permit
  • Public Assistance ID
  • Mobile phone
  • Driver's license & registration
  • Social security card
  • Your partner’s social security number
  • Medical records
  • Address book
  • Insurance policies
  • Important legal documents
  • Police records •Record of violence
  • Baby’s things (diapers, formula, medication)
  • Children’s school and immunization records
  • Birth certificates
  • Medications
  • Clothing
  • Eyeglasses
  • Lease
  • Non-perishable snacks for you and your children (e.g. juice and crackers)
  • Important phone numbers including Safe link: 877-785-2020

For further information call: 911 If you are in immediate danger 

  • (617) 349-3371 Cambridge Police Domestic Violence Unit 
  • (781) 897-8300 Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan
  • (781) 897-6631 Victims and Witness Assistance at district courthouse 
  • (877) 785-2020 Massachusetts Domestic Violence Hotline (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) 
  • (617) 661-7203 Transition House, Domestic Violence Agency in Cambridge (www.transitionhouse.org)

Fire Safety Tips

Make sure that you have an escape plan for every room of the house and that everyone knows it. Know where you are going to meet outside, and if you have caged animals make sure that an adult is responsible for getting them out and that the children know not to run back for "Fluffy;”. Once you are out stay out.

Learn your house in the dark. Could you get to the door and open it in the pitch black? A room filled with smoke is that dark.

Keep an appropriate fire extinguisher nearby locations where fire danger exists (ie: kitchen, laundry room, boiler room etc. (See "Before attempting to extinguish a fire").

Teach children how to react. Practice the "stop, drop and roll" response for when clothing catches fire. Also remind them to alert the rest of the family by shouting and to leave the house, not hide under the bed or in a closet. Sound your fire alarm where they can hear it. It is a scary noise and children may freeze or panic the first few times they hear it. If you practice evacuating the house, using the alarm, everyone will react much more calmly during a crisis.

Stay low to avoid excessive smoke. Feel doors with the back of your hand, before opening them. Do not open a hot door! Using the back of your hand will make it easier to crawl on your hands and knees afterwards and it is your natural tendency to curl your hand inwards. That tendency will remove your hand from the door before your conscious reaction will.

Test your smoke detectors once a month and replace batteries before they die!

For more Fire Safety Information visit the Cambridge Fire Department's web site.

General Safety Tips

We have all heard the general safety rules before: Never open the door to strangers, Never tell someone you are home alone, Lock all doors and windows, Park in a well lighted area, Be aware of your surroundings, Look both ways before crossing the street... These are great rules to remember but there are other things you can do to protect yourself and the ones you love.

If you are in danger (the building is on fire, etc.) and there is something you can do to remove yourself from the danger, do that before calling 911.

Look around your house for dangers. Don't be afraid to crawl around on your hands and knees. Changing the angle you view things through will change how you see them. This is especially important if you have children, pets or frequent young visitors to your house. Look for hanging power cords, curtain cords, empty electric sockets, loose boards or slippery surfaces. Things you see and avoid everyday may pose a danger to a child who does not know what it is for.

Place (and maintain) fire extinguishers around the house. Having one in the kitchen is great. But what if you can not get to the kitchen?

When you move into a new house or apartment, change the locks.  The police can do a safety survey of your residence: call Community Relations at 617-349-6009

Dispose of hazardous wastes as soon as possible and store the rest in a safe area. Storing that can of paint for touchups is one thing, but do you really need all those cans? The same thing goes for medications. If you have prescriptions that are old or you no longer take, drop them off at the Police Department medical drop box.

If there are torrential rains, do not try to cross flooded roadways. Your car may stall out in the middle, and you do not know how fast that water is moving or what may be underneath. If you are trapped in a car that is going under water, roll up the windows. This will slow the intake of water and give you time to think rationally or call for help.

In the winter, remember to clear the snow from your tail pipe before turning on the car to warm. Snow or any obstruction in a tailpipe can cause a buildup of carbon monoxide in the car.

Have emergency information and phone numbers always on hand.

Attend a basic CPR and First Aid course. These are frequently taught by the American Red Cross and other such agencies.

Do you have window locks in place or door locks that require a key? What would you do if you needed to exit the house quickly at night? Could you find the key or get out the window?

Remember, making your house safe does not mean just safe for you, but safe for anyone who comes into it.

RapidSOS Haven APP

RapidSOS Haven is a new mobile safety and security app that puts the power of a home security system right in your pocket. With the RapidSOS Haven app, you can transmit data directly to 9-1-1, including your type of emergency, GPS location, and relevant medical and demographic data. You can even text 9-1-1 if you can’t speak. Haven also keeps you connected to your loved ones by informing them if you have an emergency and also makes it possible to see where your loved ones are in real-time through the Family Connect built-in feature

Learn more about Haven and how you can get a 10-year free subscription to the app just for being a Cambridge resident.

Teaching Kids What 9-1-1 is For

Talking to your child

Emergencies present a scary situation for children and they may not know what to do. Below you will find some tips on how to teach your child how to use and when to use the 911 system. When talking with your child, stress the importance of 911 and make sure they understand that it is serious, but do not scare them.

Teach kids what 9-1-1 is for

Some children may have heard about 911 from school, television, or friends, but may not understand what it is used for. Children may not be sure what a real emergency is. Remind children to dial 911 when they need help to save a life, stop a crime or report a fire. Inform your child that if they are ever lost and feel that they are not safe, to pick up a phone and dial 911 and they will be helped.

The best time to prepare for an emergency is now!!  Don't wait until one happens!

Tips for Parents

The most important thing you can do is to talk with your child about 911 and when they should call.  Tell your child that if they ever have to call 911 there will be a person on the other end who is going to help them. Make sure your child understands that they can trust any police officer, fire fighter or anyone who answers a 911 call.

Practice with your children. Use a fake phone or unplugged phone and have your children call "911." Play the role of the dispatcher and ask questions of your child, like: "What is the location of the emergency?" "What number are you calling from?" "What are your parent's names?".

Make sure children understand that they should leave the building if there is a fire. Have them practice crawling from their beds out of the house - in two ways! There should always be two escape routes. Test your fire alarm monthly and let your child hear it. Help your child to learn to think calmly and react intelligently despite the noise.

Tips for the Babysitter

When there are no adults at home, every child or babysitter should have the following information posted by the phone:

  • A list of emergency numbers
  • Your home phone number and the address
  • Any other contact information (pager numbers, cell phone numbers, neighbors numbers).
  • Medications and allergies.
Also make sure that your babysitter is comfortable in the house. Give them a tour the first time they are over, and include front and back doors and potential hazards.
Last Updated: 8/29/2017

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