Each year, Calgary’s 9-1-1 Centre receives over one million emergency and non-emergency calls. It takes a team of over 300 employees working in a 24-7 environment to answer those calls and get citizens the help they need.
As the first of the first responders, the 9-1-1 Centre’s emergency communications officers relay the important information a caller provides to the dispatched police officers, fire fighters and paramedics. If you need to call 9-1-1 or a non-emergency line, always remain calm, answer all the questions the 9-1-1 officer asks you and stay on the phone line until they tell you to hang up.
The most important piece of information a 9-1-1 emergency communications officer needs is your location. If you don’t know where you are, there may be a delay in getting you the help you need. Many citizens assume emergency responders can find them based on cell phone GPS. This is not true. While the 9-1-1 officer may receive your approximate location, it’s not always accurate. That’s why it is so important to always pay attention to your surroundings and know your location - whether you’re at home, on the highway or in a park.
Another way you can help emergency responders is by preventing accidental 9-1-1 calls. Each day in Calgary, the 9-1-1 Centre receives over 300 accidental calls. Why is this a big deal? Because the emergency communications officers have to call each of those callers back to confirm an emergency response is not needed. Sometimes they even need to send police officers out to ensure you are okay. Not only does this take up a lot of time, but it also could be tying up an emergency line for someone who desperately needs help.
You can help by ensuring your cell phone is locked before placing it in your purse, pocket or backpack. Also, remove the battery out of old cell phones before giving them to your children to play with. Even an inactive cell phone can dial 9-1-1. Finally, if you do accidentally dial 9-1-1, do not hang up. Stay on the line and tell the officer what happened so they don’t have to call you back.
For more information about 9-1-1 and how to prevent accidental calls, visit calgary.ca.
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