When to call 911 and 311

Two people calling 911

911 is for police, fire, and medical emergencies, including:

  • Crime
  • Fire
  • Overdoses
  • Medical emergencies
  • Mental health crises 

A mental health or substance use crisis is a medical emergency. Calling 911 puts you in contact with a  trained dispatcher. They send the most appropriate response team for each situation.


If you are experiencing an emergency or worried about someone’s safety on the street, call 911.


Try to stay calm and answer all questions as best you can. Answering questions does not delay response times.


Multilingual services are available. Tell us which language you prefer.


911 dispatchers may ask:

  • Where is the emergency?
  • What is happening?
  • Who is involved?
  • Is anyone injured?
  • Is there a weapon?
Two people discuss calling 311.

311 is for City services, information, and non-emergencies, including:

  • Support for unhoused people 
  • Mobility and access issues
  • Encampments
  • Street or sidewalk cleaning
  • Food security programs
  • Trash can overruns and debris pickup
  • Illegal parking
  • Abandoned vehicles
  • Street repair
  • Syringes and hazardous waste
  • Graffiti 
  • Streetlight and sign repair

You can request services, ask questions, and get information through the 311 app or by calling 311.


311 operates 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, every day of the year.


A 311 call-taker will assess the situation and may do any of the following:

  • Provide you with resources and information
  • Issue a service request to the appropriate department or agency
  • Direct you to the right place.

You can check the status of your 311 request using the service request number. Ask the call taker or find it through the app.

What happens when you call 911 for someone in crisis on the streets

In this video

Raquel, a 911 dispatcher, walks through the process of receiving 911 calls and how she supports people experiencing a crisis.

Meet Del

I’m a retired paramedic. I also struggled with substance dependency on the streets of the Tenderloin. Every day, I witness the need for compassionate care when someone is experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis on the street.

I believe people should call 911 if they see someone in crisis. This will allow trained dispatchers to figure out the right help to send.

San Francisco’s street response teams respond to 911 calls and are trained in trauma informed care and de-escalation. The teams reduce the need for police response for mental health or substance use crises.


The Coordinated Street Response Program is a multi-agency effort to provide specialized resources. Our goal is to offer compassionate care to people experiencing a crisis on the streets. San Francisco’s Coordinated Street Response Program is a multi-agency effort to bring together specialized resources to provide compassionate care to people experiencing a crisis on the streets.