9-1-1 tips

Our 9-1-1 tips brochure is available, free-of-charge, in the following languages:


9-1-1 is your connection to police, fire and ambulance

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.  Please use 9-1-1 responsibly - our call-takers can't provide information on the weather, power outages or municipal services. Don't call 9-1-1 and ask for the "non-emergency" phone number. Those numbers are located on the homepage of our web site, the front cover of your phone book or you can dial directory assistance (4-1-1) and retrieve a number.

Our 9-1-1 call-takers and dispatchers are highly trained, dedicated professionals who will get you the help you need. Please remember these tips whenever you call 9-1-1.

Help prevent accidental 9-1-1 calls

We receive hundreds of unintended 9-1-1 calls every day, from pocket dials to hang-ups. Please follow these simple tips to help prevent them:

  • Protect your cellphone by locking and storing it carefully.
  • Keep it in a safe position when not in use and use a case or holster to protect it.
  • Use your cellphone's key lock to help prevent accidental calls.
  • Don’t program 9-1-1 into any telephone — speed dials cause accidental 9-1-1 calls.
  • Please do not test 9-1-1 to see if it’s working.

If you call 9-1-1 accidentally

If you dial 9-1-1 accidentally, stay on the line and tell us. If you hang up we don't know if you are okay and will have to call back or, if you've called from a landline and we can determine your location, send police to check on you.

  • Stay on the line. Don't ever hang up.
  • Be prepared to answer questions. If our call-takers have any concern for your safety or feel there are suspicious circumstances, they will send police to check on you.

Stay on the line

When an E-Comm 9-1-1 call-taker answers, they will ask you if you need “police” “fire” or “ambulance.” The call-taker will also confirm which municipality you are calling from. Once you indicate which service you need, your call will be immediately transferred.

  • Stay on the line and follow instructions. Your 9-1-1 call-taker will stay on the line with you to make sure your call is answered by the agency you need. Don't hang up until the call-taker says it's okay to.

Know your location

  • Know your location at all times and communicate it when you are asked.
  • Location is particularly important if you are calling from a cellphone or an internet/VoIP phone (see below). Cellphones provide only general location information; Internet phones provide no location information.
  • You should know what city you are in, building or home addresses, cross streets, and any other information that will help emergency personnel find you.
  • Learn your compass directions (north, south, east, west).
  • Important information from Search & Rescue: Never wait to call 9-1-1 if you are lost outdoors. Even though you may not feel an urgent threat to your health or safety, it is best to make the call immediately rather than trying to find your way back. Once you’ve made this call, follow the instructions of the 9-1-1 call-taker and/or search and rescue official. This may include being instructed to conserve your cellphone’s battery power by not making any other calls and establishing set times for further communication with emergency responders.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)

If you are using a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone service, there are a few things you should know:

  • VoIP calls to 9-1-1 do not go directly to 9-1-1 centres. If you dial 9-1-1 from a VoIP phone your call will go to a third-party call centre and an operator will re-direct your call to the appropriate 9-1-1 centre.
  • VoIP phones do not provide location information. It is crucial that your location information is up to date with your VoIP service provider as the operator may assume that you are at the last registered address if you are not able to speak during a 9-1-1 call.

Be prepared to answer questions

Our call-takers are experienced “question askers” and their persistence is based on a need to provide accurate and specific information to the attending emergency responders.

  • Listen carefully, speak clearly and try to remain calm.

Please understand that while call-takers are asking you questions, they are relaying vital information electronically to the dispatchers and emergency personnel on their way to help you.


If English is a second language

E-Comm has a 24-hour interpretation service that can be accessed in less than a minute, with interpretation available in more than 170 languages.

  • Teach your non-English speaking family and friends to learn the English word for the language they do speak (e.g., learn to say “Cantonese”) in case an interpreter is needed. This will speed up the process.
  • Encourage friends and family to learn the words "police", "fire" and "ambulance" in English.
  • Remind friends and family that even if they speak a little English, that is very helpful and often is all our call-takers need to collect information. People should not be shy to try their English.

Help others to know about 9-1-1

  • Teach children to use 9-1-1 properly and remind them it is not a toy. Always keep cordless phones fully charged and in the same place in the home. Keep your address information near the phone and show your children and caregivers where it is. Never give old cellphones to children to use as toys—many de-commissioned phones can still dial 9-1-1.

Text with 9-1-1 for the Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing and Speech Impaired Community (DHHSI)

  • E-Comm now offers a service for members of the Deaf, Deaf-Blind, Hard-of-Hearing-and Speech Impaired (DHHSI) community that allows DHHSI persons to communicate with a 9-1-1 operator through a special text system called Text with 9-1-1. Text with 9-1-1 enables DHHSI persons who have pre-registered their cellphone to communicate with police, fire and ambulance call-takers via text in case of emergency. In order to access the service, DHHSI callers must:
    • Pre-register their cellphones with their cellphone company
    • Dial 9-1-1 like any other caller in order to establish a voice network connection
    • Call from a community within E-Comm’s service area
      *This service is only available to the DHHSI community.
  • Do not text (unless you are a part of the DHHSI community and have pre-registered your cellphone for Text with 9-1-1) or tweet 9-1-1. Use a phone to call 9-1-1.
  • For more information visit Text with 9-1-1.


How 9-1-1 works


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