Tips for calling 9-1-1 for a medical emergency during the COVID-19 pandemic
Call 9-1-1 if you are seriously ill and need immediate medical attention. Inform them that you or a family member may be sick or monitored for COVID-19.
It is important to answer all of the dispatcher’s questions honestly and listen carefully to their instructions. These questions are not delaying the response, they are to ensure the safety of the responding members.
Letting them know in advance can help them prepare with the correct personal protective equipment (masks, gloves, gowns or face shields) so they can help you as quickly as possible. Dispatchers may ask you to wait outside and not approach the responders until they tell you it is ok. Responders may ask you to put on a mask when they arrive.
Call 9-1-1 to:
- save a life
- report a fire or
- stop a crime
All calls placed to 9-1-1 must be answered; however, phones can get busy during a major emergency or if multiple people call about the same emergency. Calls may be put in a holding queue or be rerouted to another centre that is available to take the call immediately. Be sure to indicate which municipality you are calling from to ensure that your call gets sent to the appropriate communications centre. This is especially true if calling from a cell phone.
Know what is going on before you call
Be prepared to answer the follow:
- What's the address of the emergency? If you are calling from a multi-family dwelling (e.g. senior's lodge, condominiums or apartment complex), know the name of the building and the room number.
- What's the phone number you're calling from? Try to call from a land line if possible so the Emergency Communications Operator (ECO) can call you back if necessary.
- What's the problem?
- If the problem is medical related, the ECO will want to know how old the casualty is (approximately), what their level of consciousness is and if the casualty is breathing.
- If the problem is fire related, the ECO will want to know if you and others are safe and out of danger.
You may be put on hold, but do not hang up. The ECO will come back and may ask more questions. Try to be brief. If you don't know the answer to the question, simply say that you do not know.
If there are special instructions on how to get into the building or to the location of the emergency, let the ECO know.
Land lines, cell phones and VoIP 9-1-1 service
1. Why is a land line more reliable than a cell phone?Permanent link to Why is a land line more reliable than a cell phone?
Land lines are not subject to weak signals or poor reception. The address on a land line is traceable as well, which allows the ECO to quickly determine where the call is coming from. The ECO also has the ability to call you back if necessary.
2. What do I need to know when calling from a cell phone.Permanent link to What do I need to know when calling from a cell phone.
Be sure to know where you are. If you don't have an address, identify which municipality you're in, what highway/range road/or street you're on or what highway exit you just passed. Don't assume that your call will be answered by someone who is familiar with the community you're calling from.
3. Why do I have to state the municipality I am calling from?Permanent link to Why do I have to state the municipality I am calling from?
Calls may be placed in a holding queue or routed to another centre that is available to take the call immediately. Therefore, be sure to indicate which municipality you are calling from to ensure that your call gets sent to the appropriate communications centre. This is especially true when calling from a cell phone.
4. What do I do if I call 9-1-1 by accident?Permanent link to What do I do if I call 9-1-1 by accident?
Do not hang up. Simply tell the ECO that the number was called in error. If a call is placed to 9-1-1 and the caller hangs up, the police will be sent to investigate the call.
5. What is VoIP telephone service as it relates to 9-1-1?Permanent link to What is VoIP telephone service as it relates to 9-1-1?
Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP telephone service) allows customers to make voice calls using an internet connection instead of a regular or analog phone line. There may be limitations of VoIP service including reduced 9-1-1 capabilities, the inability to track where the call is coming from, and interrupted service due to a power failure or disrupted internet connections.
6. Tips for VoIP customers regarding 9-1-1 callsPermanent link to Tips for VoIP customers regarding 9-1-1 calls
Verify that you can access 9-1-1 with your phone and post your address near your phone for quick reference.
Further information on 9-1-1 services for traditional wireline, VoIP and wireless phone service.
About the Strathcona Emergency Communications Centre
The Strathcona Emergency Communications Centre (ECC) provides 9-1-1 services and fire dispatch for a number of local communities. Our ECC is ISO 9001:2015 certified.