Vancouver, B.C.— Recognizing the dedication of 9-1-1 call-takers, dispatchers, technology specialists and support personnel, the Province of British Columbia has declared April 13-19 as Emergency Service Dispatchers’ and 9-1-1 Awareness Week. As part of the week’s recognition, E-Comm—the emergency communications centre for southwest British Columbia—is reminding the public of the proper use of 9-1-1 and ways in which callers can support the efforts of call-takers who are here to help 24/7.
“Those who answer emergency calls and dispatch first responders during times of crisis are often the unsung heroes working behind the scenes to help those in need,” explained E-Comm CEO David Guscott. “Our staff are highly trained, dedicated professionals and we want to take this opportunity to recognize their important contributions to public safety.”
E-Comm has answered more than 13 million 9-1-1 calls since 1999, and while the vast majority of people use the system responsibly, there are many ways the public can help ensure important lifelines are not misused.
E-Comm 9-1-1 call-takers’ top five tips:
- Know when to make the call. 9-1-1 is for police, fire or medical emergencies when immediate action is required: someone’s health, safety or property is in jeopardy or a crime is in progress. Use local non-emergency numbers for police matters that don’t require immediate response. You can find non-emergency numbers at ecomm911.ca.
- Know your location. Cellphones provide general information but they don’t pinpoint an exact location for 9-1-1 call-takers. Callers are always the best source of information, especially during an emergency when time is of the essence. Always know your location including what city you are in, building or home addresses, cross streets or any other landmark information that will help emergency personnel find you.
- Be prepared to answer questions. It’s the job of 9-1-1 call-takers to get you the emergency response you need. To do that, call-takers are trained to ask specific questions in a priority sequence, relaying information via computer to dispatchers and first responders. Listen carefully, speak clearly and try to remain calm.
- Lock and store your phone carefully. Each day E-Comm receives hundreds of accidental 9-1-1 calls – from pocket dials to hang-ups – all of which tie-up emergency resources. Never pre-program 9-1-1 and don’t let kids play with your cellphone. Keep cellphones locked, stored safely and preferably in a case.
- If you accidentally dial 9-1-1 stay on the line. Do not hang up. If you do, the system will record your call as “abandoned” and call-takers are required to call you back further tying up emergency lines. In instances where your location is known police may be sent to confirm you are safe.
Got questions for a 9-1-1 call-taker? On April 17 starting at 4pm E-Comm will be ‘live’ tweeting #911Awareness.
E-Comm answers close to 900,000 9-1-1 calls each year for Metro Vancouver, the Sunshine Coast Regional District, Whistler, Squamish and the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (South) and provides dispatch service to more than 30 police and fire departments.
E-Comm Corporate Communications