Tips for calling emergency services
When should I call emergency services (police, fire or ambulance)?
Call only in the case of emergencies where an immediate response is required.
What constitutes an emergency?
- When someone's life is in danger, a life threatening situation where every second counts
- When a crime is in progress: a fight, a theft, a break and enter, a prowler, a dangerous driver is on the road putting others at risk.
- When there has been a motor vehicle accident, with injuries
If it is happening now and you see it taking place, then call 9-1-1.
Do’s and don’ts when calling for emergency assistance
- Identify your location. Emergency operators will need to know where you are so they can dispatch the help you need. If you don't know the exact address, provide an intersection, highway exit sign, cross street or landmark. This will assist the police in getting to your location faster.
- Let the trained operator take control of the conversation and get all the necessary information. A 9-1-1 operator is trained to work through the questions in a systematic order, so the questions may seem very quick or rapid fire. But, this is the only way to gather the information as quickly as possible so a police person can be safely dispatched.
- Answer all the questions. The operator will continue to ask you questions to gather information about you and the situation to pass on to police who are on the way to the scene.
- Stay calm. Speak clearly and give the operator as much detail as possible.
- Remain where you are unless you are in danger.
- Use text messaging to call 9-1-1. Text messaging does not allow our operators to ask questions and understand the urgency of the situation. (For the hearing impaired community, the best method for communicating with 9-1-1 remains the TTY format.)
- Program 9-1-1 into any telephone. This may lead to accidental calls.
- Avoid accidental calls to 9-1-1. Do not store your mobile phone in your pockets while driving or in a car.
If you call 9-1-1 by mistake
- Do call back 9-1-1 if you realize you have dialed them by mistake, particularly from a mobile device. Letting an emergency operator know there is no emergency will save precious time from attending to other real emergencies.
- Do not hang up the phone. Public safety policy dictates the operator to call back to confirm there is no emergency. This wastes valuable time. Simply apologize and tell the operator you called by accident and there is no emergency.
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