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How Do I Use 9-1-1 to Get Assistance

Help Us Help You: Your Guide to
Calling 9-1-1 Emergency Services

To best respond to an emergency situation, call takers, dispatchers and first responders need your help. Familiarize yourself and those living or visiting your home with the following tips to ensure that the 9-1-1 call taker will be able to process your emergency call efficiently and send assistance as quickly as possible.

What to expect when you call 9-1-1 Emergency

When you dial 9-1-1 your call is answered by a member of the London Police Communications Centre. They are professionally trained, and the 9-1-1 telephone system has an Automatic Location Identification System and an Automatic Number Identification System (for conventional telephone lines) which lets the call taker know the address and telephone number of the caller. If a caller is unable to communicate or respond, the Police will be dispatched to the location immediately.

9-1-1 needs to know what service or services to send

The call taker will ask which service or services you require? Police, Fire or Ambulance?

9-1-1 needs to know where to go

  • When calling 9-1-1, one of the first things you’ll be asked to provide is the location of the emergency you’re reporting.
  • The call taker may not automatically know your location or may ask you to confirm it.
  • Make sure you provide as much detail on your location as possible, such as landmarks, cross streets and mileposts.

Know your cell phone well


  • The current 9-1-1 system is designed for voice communications only.
  • Texting 9-1-1 is not an option in most locales; you must dial 9-1-1 and speak with a call taker.
  • Pull over when driving, if possible. This reduces the chance of a dropped call.
  • Lock your keypad when you’re not using your phone, so 9-1-1 isn’t dialled by mistake. For the same reason, don’t put 9-1-1 on speed dial.
  • Do not give old phones to children as toys. A wireless phone with no active service can still call 9-1-1.
  • If you accidentally call 9-1-1, stay on the line and tell the call taker that you do not have an emergency.
  • Calling 9-1-1 from a cell phone is always free and it is never necessary to dial an area code.

9-1-1 is for emergency use only


  • Call 9-1-1 for emergencies only. It is appropriate to call 9-1-1 when you need to save a life, stop a crime or report a fire.
  • 9-1-1 is the right number to call in an emergency when a prompt response is needed.
  • If you are not sure you have an emergency to report, call 9-1-1 and let the call taker decide.

Know how to use 9-1-1 with the phone you own


  • Before you need help in an emergency, be sure to understand how the type of phone you use affects your call to 9-1-1. It is important to know the capabilities of the device you are using (landline, cellular, VoIP).
  • Cell phones may not automatically tell 9-1-1 where you are so be prepared to provide detailed information about your location.

Remain calm, be prepared


  • Try to stay calm, give information and follow all instructions.
  • Professional call-takers are trained to get information from you. Listen carefully and answer as concisely as possible.
  • Remember that even if the dispatcher is still asking questions or giving instructions, help is on the way.

Help 9-1-1 to help you


  • The more you know what to expect when you call 9-1-1, the faster 9-1-1 can get you the help you need.
  • You can save a life! Follow all instructions the 9-1-1 call taker gives you, and don’t hang up until the call taker does. If you get cut off, call back and explain that you were cut off.
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