9-1-1 is an easy-to-remember phone number to use in any emergency situation. Use it to get emergency assistance from police, fire, and/or ambulance personnel.
The 9-1-1 system covers all property within the Comox Valley Regional District, the Strathcona Regional District and the Regional Districts of Mount Waddington and Alberni-Clayoquot, qathet Regional District (formerly known as Powell River Regional District, excluding Lasqueti Island), and Nanaimo (School District 69) - coverage map.
The initial answering point for public safety calls is E-Comm in Vancouver. The North Island 911 Corporation has an agreement with E-Comm to perform this function. More information about E-Comm can be found at www.ecomm911.ca.
All fire calls will be relayed to the fire dispatch centre in Campbell River. All police calls are handled by the RCMP in Courtenay. All ambulance calls are relayed to the BC Ambulance Service in Victoria.
It is an emergency when life or property is in immediate danger or any serious crime is in progress. For example: if you smell smoke, see a fire, medical emergencies, person(s) breaking into a building, etc.
It is NOT an emergency when there is no immediate danger to life or property. For example: break-ins or stolen vehicles that are discovered after the suspect(s) have left, barking dogs, loud parties or general inquires. It is NOT an emergency to report or enquire about earthquakes.
When you need EMERGENCY assistance, dial 9-1-1. No coin is required to call 9-1-1 from pay phones. The operator will answer "police, fire or ambulance?" Tell them immediately which agency you need; if you need more than one emergency service, say so. Stay calm, do not hang up! Your call will be transferred to the appropriate service. Be ready to answer all questions regarding the emergency, including your name, address and telephone number.
Emergency response operators are trained to assist the response agencies. They are the people who will determine the necessary information that will improve the effectiveness of the response. 911 operators need to know:
- What is happening?
Emergency crews need to know the details of the emergency to send the proper personnel and equipment. The more information you can provide, the better.
- Where did it happen?
Make your answer short but as complete as possible. The emergency personnel responding may be new to the area and will require more detail.
- When did it happen?
This will establish the urgency of the call, especially if the situation is in progress.
- Who is involved?
Descriptions of suspects, vehicles and direction of travel, assist in timely apprehension and the safety of responding personnel.
- Your name, address and phone number?
Even though the 9-1-1 system can show the operator the address you are calling from, the 9-1-1 operator needs to know if you live at that address as they may need to call back for further details and you might have to leave for safety reasons. Also, cell phones and VOIP (voice over internet protocol) phones do not give 911 street address locations so you'll need to tell the operator where you are.
9-1-1 calls placed on cell phones could be answered by emergency operators in Victoria, Vancouver, Nanaimo, Courtenay, or by a Telus operator. Tell the person who answers your call your exact location. If necessary your call will be directed to the proper response centre.
If for some reason your 9-1-1 call gets disconnected, the operator can retrieve the phone number and address of the place you were calling from. If they cannot get you back on the telephone, an emergency vehicle will be sent to check on your situation.
Don't hang-up. Mistakes happen; but emergency operators must verify the error, so stay on the phone and explain the error quickly and calmly.
Prank calls to 9-1-1 can cost lives by blocking access for real emergency calls. In a real emergency, someone may only have one chance to call.
Children can accidentally hit a 9-1-1 speed dial button and then hang up, resulting in abandoned 9-1-1 calls. Cordless phones with 9-1-1 programmed into their memory can automatically dial 9-1-1 when their batteries get low.
9-1-1 does not extend existing fire protection regions. If you are not sure if you are in a designated fire protection region, call your regional district office.
Nationally, approximately 80 per cent of all 9-1-1 calls are for police, 12 per cent for ambulance and eight per cent for fire. Those statistics are reflected in the calls to North Island 911 as well.