9-1-1 is a toll-free telephone number reserved for emergency situations requiring the assistance of Police, Fire or Ambulance and can be accessed by all touch-tone, rotary and cellular phones.
The 9-1-1 telephone system has an Automatic Location Identification System and an Automatic Number Identification System (ANI/ALI) which lets the operator know the address and telephone number of the caller. The ANI/ALI system may not be one hundred percent accurate in identifying cellular phone numbers or locations and the caller will be asked to verify both.
What is an emergency and when to call 9-1-1?
An emergency is any situation where people and/or property are at risk. The following are just a few examples of when you should call 9-1-1:
- If you find yourself involved or witnessing a situation where someone’s life may be in danger;
- Any crime in progress, a fire or someone in need of medical attention;
- Someone with a weapon;
- Someone wanting to harm themselves or others.
What is NOT an emergency?
A non-emergency is any situation that is not dangerous and immediate action is not necessary. A few examples of non-emergency situations are:
- Automobile collision where no injuries have occurred;
- Follow-up of an auto theft report;
- A noisy party;
- Reporting a lost or stolen bicycle.
For all non-emergency situations, please call the Halton Regional Police Service Non-Emergency line at:
North Halton 905-878-5511
What happens when you call 9-1-1?
When calling 9-1-1 you will be connected to an operator who will ask “9-1-1, do you require police, fire or ambulance?” This is very important so the operator can redirect your call as required. Your first contact is to the police so if you need an ambulance or are reporting a fire, you will need to state the help required and listen for the next set of questions.
The next question will be “What is your location and phone number?” This is required in case you are disconnected; the operator needs to know where you are so they can continue sending help. If you do not know the exact address, please provide the name of the town you are in and the closest intersection or cross street.
There will be a list of specific questions that are asked by all emergency services and they will differ depending on who you are speaking to, police, fire or ambulance. Listen carefully as these questions have been designed specifically to expedite the most appropriate emergency response to your needs.
How you can help the 9-1-1 operator
During times when you need 9-1-1, you are more likely to be under a great deal of stress and your emotions can cause you to yell and/or lose focus. Try to remain calm, control your voice level and listen carefully to the operator’s questions. These questions will enable a quicker and most appropriate emergency response.
It is also very important that you STAY ON THE LINE UNTIL YOU ARE ADVISED TO HANGUP. By remaining on the line with the operator, you continue to provide up to the minute information that the operator will continue to share with the responding units.
Calling 9-1-1 by mistake
If you have dialed 9-1-1 by mistake, DO NOT HANG UP, remain on the line until the call is answered and explain the mistake. Every 9-1-1 call is followed up with and explaining the mistake will prevent operator time spent trying to locate you or subsequently dispatching officers to your residence.
What to teach your children about 9-1-1?
When teaching children, it’s important that they know who to call if an emergency arises and an adult cannot get to the phone.
- Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1.
- Teach children their address and telephone number as soon as they are able to learn it.
- Keep your address and phone number by the phone in case children are unsure.
- Teach children to answer all of the operator’s questions and to stay on the line until they are told to hang up.
- Teach children the dangers of making prank 9-1-1 calls.
What are the dangers of prank 9-1-1 calls?
Prank 9-1-1 calls are extremely dangerous. As operators may be busy with a false emergency call, someone with a real emergency may not be able to get the help they need. These prank calls can also waste operator and officer time in trying to locate you to check on your wellbeing.
From January to June 2014, 9-1-1 received 56,627 calls, of those calls 14% were placed mistakenly by cell phones when the phone was put away without having the screen locked. Operators must spend time following up to make sure that you’re okay. To help prevent this, please make sure your phone is locked before putting it away.