Make the Right Call

Make the Right Call Arlington – english

En Espanol MTRC brochure spanish version- 4-21

 911 is for Emergencies!

Arlington County Fire Department responds to over 15,000 medical 911 calls a year. All are important, but not every call is a Medical Emergency.

Using 911 for non-emergency concerns may take an ACFD unit away from life-threatening emergency calls. Emergency rooms will not see you faster just because you are transported by ambulance.

Please help our 911 system respond to life-threatening emergencies to save lives and “Make The Right Call”.

COVID - 19 Concerns

If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for medical advice. Or, call the Arlington County Department of Health (703) 228-7999 or the Virginia Department of Health at 877-ASK-VDH3.
We need to keep our ambulances and medical providers available for true medical emergencies. We can NOT transport anyone to sampling or testing sites nor can we provide testing to our patients. Please call 911 if you are experiencing these true medical emergencies:



True Medical Emergencies can include but not limited to:

  • Severe trauma
  • Heavy bleeding that will not stop
  • Unconsciousness or difficult to arouse
  • Burns involving the face or a large area of the body
  • Severe chest pain, especially with sweating, vomiting, or difficulty breathing
  • Allergic reactions with throat/tongue swelling, difficulty breathing, or difficulty speaking
  • New stroke-like symptoms (one sided weakness, slurred speech, difficulty speaking, or facial droop
  • Poisoning
  • Vomiting more than 1/2 cup of blood
  • Drug overdose with unconsciousness
  • Labor pains fewer than 5 minutes apart
  • Choking
  • Sudden or unexplained confusion
  • Severe breathing difficulty
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Sudden onset of new severe pain
  • Unexplained severe headache

When in doubt, call 911

Our trained professional dispatchers will ask a series of questions designed to best match your needs with the appropriate resources. It is possible they may re-direct you to another resource. Please be patient and answer all questions in order to provide the best possible service.

What is “Make The Right Call”

The Arlington County Fire Department (ACFD) is initiating a public information campaign to help individuals, facilities and communities develop the know-how to “Make the Right Call.”  We are empowering our community to help maintain our EMS system readiness by learning appropriate utilization of our medical 911 system. The goal of the initiative is to minimize the impact on emergency resource readiness that occurs when emergency medical personnel and equipment are used for non-emergent medical situations.

ACFD’s “Make the Right Call” public information campaign has been developed to educate all facets of the community about medical 911 use as well as the myriad of other medical resources available throughout Arlington County. While you should always call 911 if unsure, ACFD’s “Make the Right Call” campaign is designed to help people better understand how to identify a true medical emergency that requires a 911 emergency response versus an urgent or non-emergent medical issue that, although important, could be handled without emergency resources. Increased public awareness of true medical emergencies and appropriate emergency medical utilization will help keep ACFD first responders available to respond to true medical emergencies while still ensuring community members get the appropriate services they need.

“Make the Right Call” is a community extension of the successful campaign ACFD initiated several years ago working collaboratively with local long-term care facilities, rehabilitation centers and community clinics to decrease unnecessary utilization of emergency medical resources. Based on this success, and noting the success of similar programs nationwide, we are now expanding our outreach and public education efforts to ensure the entire community has access to materials and information. This spring during our annual “Operation Fire Safe” program, we will begin distributing “Make the Right Call” door hangers throughout Arlington County. Update – Due to COVID-19 we will not be distributing door hangars to the community until further notice. 

The Arlington County Fire Department is committed to maintaining the highest state of readiness and providing its residents with excellent customer service. “Make the Right Call” is just one more example of that commitment.

If you would like ACFD to coordinate with your organization or group, please contact Assistant Operational Medical Director  P.A. Kathleen Kramer