WHAT IS AN EMERGENCY?
It is an emergency when life or property is in immediate danger or any serious crime is in progress. For example: if you smell smoke, see a fire, medical emergencies, person(s) breaking into a building, etc.
WHAT IS NOT AN EMERGENCY?
It is NOT an emergency when there is no immediate danger to life or property. For example: break-ins or stolen vehicles that are discovered after the suspect(s) have left, barking dogs, loud parties or general inquires. It is NOT an emergency to report or enquire about earthquakes.
WHAT NUMBERS DO I CALL IN A NON-EMERGENCY?
Use the non-emergency telephone numbers in the white pages of your phone book to reach the service you require.
HOW DO I USE 911?
When you need EMERGENCY assistance, dial 911. No coin is required to call 911 from pay phones. The 911 operator will answer "911...police, fire or ambulance?" Tell them immediately which agency you need; if you need more than one emergency service, say so. Stay calm, do not hang up! Your call will be transferred to the appropriate service. Be ready to answer all questions regarding the emergency, including your name, address and telephone number.
WHY MUST I STAY ON THE TELEPHONE TO ANSWER QUESTIONS?
Emergency response operators are trained to assist the response agencies. They are the people who will determine the necessary information that will improve the effectiveness of the response. 911 operators need to know:
- WHAT IS HAPPENING?
Emergency crews need to know the details of the emergency to send the proper personnel and equipment. The more information you can provide, the better.
- WHERE DID IT HAPPEN?
Make your answer short but as complete as possible. The emergency personnel responding may be new to the area and will require more detail.
- WHEN DID IT HAPPEN?
This will establish the urgency of the call, especially if the situation is in progress.
- WHO IS INVOLVED?
Descriptions of suspects, vehicles and direction of travel, assist in timely apprehension and the safety of responding personnel.
- YOUR NAME, ADDRESS AND PHONE NUMBER?
Even though the 911 system can show the operator the address you are calling from, the 911 operator needs to know if you live at that address as they may need to call back for further details and you might have to leave for safety reasons. Also, cell phones and VOIP (voice over internet protocol) phones do not give 911 street address locations so you'll need to tell the operator where you are.
911 calls placed on cell phones could be answered by emergency operators in Victoria, Vancouver, Nanaimo, Courtenay, or by a phone company operator. Tell the person who answers your call your exact location. If necessary your call will be directed to the proper response centre. IT IS CRITICAL THAT YOU KNOW WHERE YOU ARE AND THAT YOU CAN RELAY THAT INFORMATION ACCURATELY TO A DISPATCHER.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I CANNOT TALK AFTER I REACH 911?
If for some reason your 911 call gets disconnected, the 911 operator can retrieve the phone number and address of the place you were calling from. If they cannot get you back on the telephone, an emergency vehicle will be sent to check on your situation.
WHAT IF I REACH 911 BY MISTAKE?
Don't hang-up. Mistakes happen; but emergency operators must verify the error, so stay on the phone and explain the error quickly and calmly.
WHAT HAPPENS IF 911 IS MISUSED?
Prank calls to 911 can cost lives by blocking access for real emergency calls. In a real emergency, someone may only have one chance to call.
WHY SHOULDN'T I PROGRAM 911 INTO SPEED DIAL SYSTEMS?
Children can accidentally hit a 911 speed dial button and then hang up, resulting in abandoned 911 calls. Cordless phones with 911 programmed into their memory can automatically dial 911 when their batteries get low.