Vancouver—E-Comm, the 9-1-1 answer point for Metro Vancouver, Whistler/Howe Sound and the Sunshine Coast, has launched a public education campaign to remind people to always be aware of their surroundings and know their exact location, something that is critical when calling 9-1-1 from a cell phone. Unlike landlines, cell phones do not provide location information to 9-1-1 call-takers.
Many cell phone users mistakenly believe their location information is transmitted to 9-1-1 call centres. In a recent Ipsos-Reid survey in the Lower Mainland, close to half of the respondents either believed their location information was displayed to 9-1-1 or didn’t know.
“Letting people know they need to be aware of their location at all times is a matter of public safety, especially in the summer months when so many people are out and about, sometimes in unfamiliar surroundings,” says Jody Robertson, E-Comm’s director of corporate communications.
“You should always be aware of your location – what city you are in, building or home addresses, cross streets, landmarks or any other information that will help emergency personnel find you – and be prepared to communicate that information to the 9-1-1 call-taker as soon as you are asked.”
Similarly, location information is not conveyed by most VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) telephones. Consumers should check with providers and consider the safety implications when choosing VoIP or cell phones for their sole telephone.
Robertson advises that if there is a choice in an emergency, always choose the landline (traditional) telephone, which will display your address to the 9-1-1 call-taker. “That way, if the connection is lost or you can’t communicate for some reason, the 9-1-1 call-taker will dispatch police to your location,” she says.
The campaign, which runs on radio and in community newspapers through the summer, is part of E-Comm’s ongoing public education efforts on 9-1-1. More information on calling 9-1-1 can be found at E-Comm’s Web site, ecomm911.ca.
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Tips for Using 9-1-1
- Dial 9-1-1 in emergency situations that require police, fire department or ambulance when immediate action is required: a life or property is in jeopardy/danger or a crime is in progress.
- Listen carefully, speak clearly and try to remain calm. While call-takers are asking you questions, they are relaying vital information electronically to the dispatchers and the emergency personnel on their way to help you.
- Do not pre-program 9-1-1 into any telephone, this may lead to accidental calls. If you do call 9-1-1 by mistake, please stay on the line and tell the call-taker.
- Non-emergency numbers for all emergency services are listed in the front of the telephone directory.
- E-Comm is the regional 9-1-1 answer point for southwest British Columbia, managing more than one million calls each year.
- E-Comm provides dispatch service for 23 police and fire departments throughout the Lower Mainland, Sunshine Coast and Whistler/Howe Sound.
- E-Comm also manages the region’s interoperable radio system used by police, fire and ambulance.
For more information on E-Comm’s 9-1-1 and other services, visit www.ecomm911.ca