NEWS RELEASE: Teaching kids how to dial 9-1-1 saves lives

E-Comm call-takers and dispatchers urge parents to talk about 9-1-1

Vancouver, B.C.—During an emergency 9-1-1 is a critical lifeline that connects those in need with first responders, and children who know how and when to call 9-1-1 can save lives. This year, as part of Emergency Service Dispatchers’ and 9-1-1 Awareness Week (April 12 – 18), E-Comm call-takers and dispatchers are reaching out to parents and caregivers, urging them to take time to teach their children about 9-1-1. It could be one of the most important lessons they’ll ever learn.

“It’s heartbreaking when you get a 9-1-1 call from a young child who is scared, hurt or needs help for a loved one,” says Jennifer, one of E-Comm’s 9-1-1 call-takers. “You never know when they might need to reach out for help; that’s why it’s so important for kids to learn at an early age what to do in an emergency.”

As a parent of three young children, Jennifer says role-playing really helps to teach her kids about when to call 9-1-1. “I want to make sure they know how to get help if they ever find themselves in a situation where they need to call 9-1-1,” she adds.

E-Comm 9-1-1 call-takers’ top tips for parents/caregivers:

  • Show your child how to dial 9-1-1 on both landlines and cells (dialing can differ between phones)
  • Explain when to call 9-1-1 in words they can easily understand:
    • If your child or someone else is “really sick or hurt”
    • If your child “smells or sees smoke or fire”
    • If your child feels in danger or “sees someone doing something very bad like stealing or hurting someone”
  • Explain to your child that a 9-1-1 operator will ask questions about where they are and what is happening. They will send the police, fire department or ambulance to help them.
  • Ensure children know where phones are located. Keep cordless phones fully charged and in the same place at all times and within easy reach.
  • Teach children their address including apartment numbers and building entry codes 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 (no addresses).
  • Role-playing what to do in emergency situations help kids understand what to do and when to call. You can find examples of the kinds of questions 9-1-1 staff will ask at
  • Help prevent accidental 9-1-1 calls: Never pre-program 9-1-1 and don’t let kids play with phones, including old cellphones. Even decommissioned cellphones can still dial 9-1-1 if there is a charged battery. It is important for parents to know that in the event of accidental/prank calls 9-1-1 operators will call back and send police when location is determined.
  • If you would like to practise dialling 9-1-1 with your children, always unplug landline phones or remove batteries from cellphones while doing so (and remember to replace batteries or plug phones back in when you’re done).

“Knowing how to dial 9-1-1 is important for children of all ages, and we have lots of information, tips, and free learning materials available in a variety of languages on our website,” says Jody Robertson, E-Comm’s Director of Corporate Communications.

Robertson encourages parents to practise dialing 9-1-1 with their children, but asks that 9-1-1 not be programmed into any phone or given phones to play with to avoid accidental calls. “Accidental calls from children playing with phones do happen and that’s something we’d like to avoid to keep emergency lines free.”

Parents, caregivers, teachers and children of all ages can visit to download/order free materials.


E-Comm is the largest 9-1-1 call centre in B.C., serving Metro Vancouver, the Sunshine Coast and Squamish-Lillooet Regional Districts, the communities of Whistler and Squamish, and 18 regional districts within the Northern, Central and Southern Interiors and on Northern Vancouver Island. E-Comm also provides dispatch services to 33 police and fire departments throughout the Lower Mainland, Sunshine Coast and Squamish-Whistler areas, and operates the wide-area radio system used throughout Metro Vancouver by police, fire and ambulance personnel.

For tips on using 9-1-1 and more information about E-Comm visit or follow @EComm911_info.

Media Contact

Jody Robertson
E-Comm Corporate Communications
[email protected]


  • Photos of E-Comm 9-1-1 call-takers and dispatchers with their children in the emergency communication centre including Jennifer, quoted in the news release
  • Tips from each staff member whose photo is available (below)
  • “It’s heartbreaking when you get a 9-1-1 call from a young child who is scared, hurt or needs help for a loved one. You never know when they might need to reach out for help; that’s why it’s so important for kids to learn at an early age what to do in an emergency.”
    Jennifer, E-Comm 9-1-1 call-taker and Surrey resident 
  • “It’s never too early to talk to your children about 9-1-1. Start by teaching them their address and phone number and make sure they know 9-1-1 call-takers are always here if they need help.”
    Lake, E-Comm police dispatcher and New Westminster resident 
  • “It’s critical that children know when they need help that 9-1-1 is the number to call. We know it can seem pretty scary when you’re young and feeling frightened, but we’re here to help.”
    Mary, E-Comm 9-1-1 call-taker and Burnaby resident 
  • “If you’re dropping your kids off at a family member or friend’s house, make sure they know where a home or cellphone is located and how to use it.”
    Jeanine, E-Comm fire dispatcher and North Vancouver resident 
  • “Let your kids know they will be answering a number of questions and to try to stay calm during the 9-1-1 call.”
    Jason, E-Comm police dispatcher and resident of Maple Ridge