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  • Laura Rincon

Tips When Calling 911

Hi everyone! My name is Laura, and I am a part of the student program working at E-Comm 911! I am here to share a few quick and essential tips when calling 911. Firstly, it is important to remember that 911 is for life or death emergencies, a crime in progress, or someone's safety is in danger. If you want to report a bylaw infraction or have a general question in Vancouver, dial 311; for medical advice dial 811 or 1-800-784-2433 if you are having a crisis or are concerned about someone who might be; and call your local non-emergency police for any non-urgent matters.

Secondly, if you accidentally dial 911 for whatever reason, DO NOT HANG UP; even if you press it quickly to hang up, we still get the call through our system and will have to use resources to call you back and make sure you are safe. You will never be in trouble for calling 911 by accident; the police call taker will ask you a couple of questions to ensure you are safe and then let you go about your day. The same principle goes if you dial to request an ambulance and then hang up the phone before you get connected; they will have to call you back (unless you are canceling an ambulance).

Thirdly, if you are calling 911, the process is as follows: a que agent will ask you if you need police, fire, or ambulance, and then if you need police, please know the city that you need the police for, or at least the general area so we can look at the map of where you are and confirm your location. From there, we will transfer the call to the appropriate agency, where you will speak to a call taker who will assess your emergency. Again, the system could be better, and sometimes there may be a short wait, but if you hang up the phone, remember it is only taking up valuable resources from others who are also having emergencies.

Fourthly, remember that if you are unsure if something is an emergency, you can always use internet resources to check if there is a specific number for you to call, such as directly contacting BC hydro, local city services, or a specific number for forest fires in the province.

E-Comm call takes and dispatches for many agencies across BC, including VPD, Delta, Abbotsford, Port Moody, Vancouver Island, highway patrols, sunshine coast RCMP, UBC, and various fire dispatches. Please be patient with the call takers and ambulance call takers, as they handle emergencies all across the province.

Finally, never hesitate to call 911 if you are unsure if there is an emergency, call takers will be able to point you in the right direction if there is a better-suited agency, and they will always be there to listen to you!

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