Overview | Proper Use of 911
What is 9–1–1?
9–1–1 is the emergency telephone number system which links callers to the appropriate emergency service - Police, Fire or Ambulance. Calling 9–1–1 helps ensure you reach the emergency service you require as quickly as possible.
When you dial 9–1–1 in the Lower Mainland you reach E-Comm, the regional call centre for southwest BC. Once you have provided the name of the city where the emergency is occurring and the service that is required, E-Comm will then forward you to the appropriate agency dispatch centre. The call taker for the agency you require will then ask you a series of questions that are necessary to complete the file and in order to ensure everyone's safety. The call is then forwarded to the dispatcher so the call may be prioritized and dispatched.
What is an Emergency?
An emergency is a situation where the safety of people or property is at risk. Examples of 9–1–1 emergencies include:
- a fire
- crime in progress
- medical crisis.
What is NOT an Emergency
It is not an emergency when the situation is not dangerous and immediate action is not necessary. Examples of a non-emergency situation include:
- a noisy party
- a theft or crime that did not just occur and where the suspect is no longer on scene
- general inquiries.
If the emergency is not life threatening, then check the front of your directory for the telephone number of the appropriate agency. The Delta Police Department non-emergency number is 604.946.4411.
What Happens when you Call 9–1–1?
When you dial 9–1–1 your call is answered by professionally trained call takers. The 9–1–1 telephone system has an Automatic Location Identification System and an Automatic Number Identification System (ALI/ANI) which lets the call taker know the address and telephone number of the caller. This information should be verified by the call taker but if the caller is unable to speak, police will be dispatched to the ALI/ANI location.
If you are calling from a cellular phone the ALI/ANI will show the cell phone number and the cell site that the phone is closest to. But this depends on whether your cell phone provider subscribes to this service. It is best that you stay on the phone, try to remain calm and give your exact location.
The caller must be prepared to give the following information:
- the service required - Fire, Police or Ambulance
- the city where the emergency is occurring.
You will then be connected to a Police, Fire or Ambulance dispatch centre according to the information you have supplied. The dispatch centre will verify the information and details surrounding the incident.
Further questions asked by the call takers at the dispatch centre typically follow the below format:
- where is the exact location the emergency is occurring
- what is the nature of the emergency
- when did this occur (is it occurring now, just occurred or a late report)
- who is involved
- are there any weapons involved
- has anyone involved been drinking alcohol or taking drugs
How to Use 9–1–1
To make the service work best for you:
- At home dial 9–1–1
- Do not pre-program 9–1–1 into your telephone, this can cause dialing problems if the battery is low on cordless phones or the button is hit accidentally
- At a business or other locations you may need to dial an outside line before dialing 9–1–1
- At a pay phone dial 9–1–1; a coin is not necessary
- When using a cellular phone you must specify that you are using such and be prepared to give your location, including the city or town
- To access TDD (Telephone Device for the Deaf), press the space bar until a response is received
- If the caller does not speak English, they should stay on the line and a call taker will link up with a telephone translation service which can handle 156 different languages.
Other 9-1-1 Resources