911 FAQs

911 Frequently Asked Questions

What is an emergency?
An emergency is when life or property is in immediate danger or when a serious crime is in progress.

What number should I call in a non-emergency?
Use the non-emergency telephone numbers in the white pages of your phone book to reach the required service.

When should I use 911?
When you need EMERGENCY assistance, dial 911. There is no cost to call 911 from a pay phone. The 911 operator will answer "911... 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! Be ready to answer questions about the emergency, including your name, address and phone number. Mobile phones do not give 911 street addresses so location will be necessary.

Why must I stay on the phone to answer questions?
Emergency response operators are trained to assist the response agencies. They are the people who will determine the necessary information intended to improve the effectiveness of the response.

What, when, where and who…
Emergency crews need to know the details of the emergency to send the proper personnel and equipment. More information is better. Make your answer short and as complete as possible. Be as clear as possible of the type of incident, when and where it happened and who is involved.

Your Name, Address and Phone Number
Even though the 911 system can show the operator the address you are calling from, the 911 operator needs to know if you live at that address as they may need to call back for further details and you might need to leave for safety reasons.

What happens if I call 911 on a mobile phone?
911 calls placed on mobile 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. Your call will be directed to the proper response centre.

What if I reach 911 by mistake?
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. Do not program 911 into your mobile phone. Children can accidentally hit a 911 speed dial button and then hang up, resulting in abandoned 911 calls. Cordless phones with 911 programmed into their memory can automatically dial 911 when the batteries are low.

For more information about 911 and emergency calls, please visit North Island 911 Corporation website.