NEWS RELEASE: 9-1-1 saves lives: do your kids know how to make the call?

E-Comm urges parents to make 9-1-1 education part of back-to-school preparations

Vancouver, B.C. — Today marks the first day of a new school year and as children head back to the classroom, E-Comm, the regional emergency communications centre, is reminding parents and caregivers about the importance of teaching children how and when to use 9-1-1.

“It’s so important for kids to know what to do during an emergency,” says Cameron MacPherson, E-Comm fire call-taker. “Kids can save lives; they just need the right tools and knowledge to be able to get the help they need during an emergency. Dialing 9-1-1 can seem pretty scary when you’re young and feeling frightened. We want children to know that we’re here to help.”

Take a few minutes to go over the following tips with your children or those in your care. Regardless of age, knowing how and when to use 9-1-1 saves lives.

9-1-1 tips for kids:

  • A 9-1-1 emergency means that you need the police, ambulance or fire department right away.
  • You should call 9-1-1 straightaway if you feel scared or are in danger.
  • Always call 9-1-1 if:
    • you or someone else is really sick or hurt,
    • you smell or see smoke or fire,
    • someone is stealing or doing something very bad like hurting someone.
  • When you call 9-1-1 the operator will ask where you are and what is happening. Try to stay calm, speak clearly and do your best to answer their questions. Help is on the way.
  • Always do what the 9-1-1 operator tells you and stay on the phone until you are told it is okay to hang up.

9-1-1 tips for parents/caregivers:

  • Ensure children know where your phone is located – keep cordless phones fully charged and located in the same place at all times that is easily within reach for your child. You don’t want them to have to search for a phone in an emergency or be unable to reach it.
  • Teach children your address and keep that information close to all phones. Remember that landlines provide exact location information (addresses) to 9-1-1 but cellphones provide general location information only and never include unit numbers in the case of high-rises or condominiums.
  • Remind older children that you can’t text or tweet 9-1-1. The only way to reach 9-1-1 in Canada is through dialing a phone.
  • Remind your children that they should only call 9-1-1 if there is a true emergency.
  • It is important for parents to know that in the event of accidental/prank calls 9-1-1 operators will call back and in many cases will send police when location is known.
  • Role-playing what to do in emergency situations helps kids understand what to do and when to call. You can find examples of the kinds of questions 9-1-1 staff will ask on our website.
  • If you would like to practise dialing 9-1-1 with your children always unplug landline phones or turn off cellphones prior to letting them dial to avoid making an accidental call.

If English is a second language:

  • Teach your children the English word for the language they do speak (e.g., learn to say “Cantonese”).
  • Teach your children to say the words “police,” “fire” and “ambulance” in English.
  • Teach your kids how to say their address in English.
  • Remind children that even if they speak a little English that is often all an operator needs to collect information and send help.
  • E-Comm has a 24-hour interpretation service available in more than 170 languages.

E-Comm has a variety of free 9-1-1 educational materials available for order for parents, caregivers, teachers and children of all ages living in Metro Vancouver, the Sunshine Coast, Whistler, Squamish or the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District. Visit to place your order. E-Comm’s 9-1-1 educational materials are also available to download online at


E-Comm 9-1-1answers almost one million 9-1-1 calls each year for Metro Vancouver, the Sunshine Coast, Whistler, Squamish and the southern portion of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, provides dispatch services to more than 30 police and fire departments, and operates the wide-area radio network used throughout Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley by police, fire and ambulance personnel.

In order for parents/caregivers to help teach children the proper use of 9-1-1 and what to expect if they need to call for help, audio of a simulated 9-1-1 call is available along with a photo of two young children with an E-Comm fire dispatcher.

Media contact:
Jody Robertson
E-Comm 9-1-1
604-215-4956 or 604-640-1342 (pager)
[email protected]

Demonstration audio:  Sample of child calling 9-1-1 to report a fire