Virtually everyone is familiar with 9-1-1, a number that is used universally in times of emergencies. An estimated 800 residents in Ottawa call into the 9-1-1 services daily.
This blog is intended to help residents understand what types of situations are true emergencies that warrant a 9-1-1 call. Many calls are made in error or simply out of misunderstanding. unfortunately, though, these non-emergency calls can tie up emergency personnel, including police, fire and paramedics.
Inappropriate calls to 9-1-1 made by Canadians range from calling to determine whether the day in question is a Provincial holiday to requesting help in finding a pair of glasses. Clearly, these are not questions or events that should burden our vital 9-1-1 service. However, there are other situations where it is less clear whether a true emergency exists and when it is appropriate to call 9-1-1 rather than the other emergency numbers available to Ottawa area residents.
An emergency is a situation or circumstance where there is immediate danger or threat to a person’s physical health, their property or their overall safety. Listed below are further explanations of situations where it is appropriate to call 9-1-1 emergency services.
Life threatening or emergency situations: These include events such as fires, car accidents, cycling accidents, pedestrian accidents, slip and falls or any type of accident that results in injury such as fractures, brain injury, spinal injury and other serious injuries. Also, if you or a family member experiences a health event such as a heart attack or severe allergic reaction that may be life threatening, a 9-1-1 call is not only appropriate but necessary to get medical attention for the injured person as quickly as possible.
Crimes that are in progress: If you are witnessing a criminal act being perpetrated, you should call 9-1-1 immediately and follow the trained 9-1-1 personnel’s directives.
If you or someone you know has been injured or died and you decide to call 9-1-1, be prepared for the following actions.
You need to remain calm. Emotions such as panic and fear can be running high and this may be difficult. Speak as clearly as you can and if possible, stay on the line until you are told to do otherwise.
Give as much detail as possible to the 9-1-1 operator. They will request information such as the name of the injured person, the nature of the injury or emergency, and the location where help is needed. Depending on the emergency, they may also ask about the circumstances leading up to the event or emergency. Answer all questions honestly, particularly those about any help or treatment given to the victim at the scene. No detail is too small.
Provide any personal information requested by the 9-1-1 dispatcher, including your name and other details about yourself and other people present at the scene. If you are not the one who is hurt, do not leave the scene of the accident until help arrives and you are told that your presence is no longer required.
To avoid dialling 9-1-1 by accident, you can take precautions such as not programming the number into your speed dial, ensuring your phone is locked when not in use and not giving children or people unfamiliar with your phone access to it.
If you do accidentally call 9-1-1, don’t hang up before you get a response. Stay on the line and inform the emergency operator of the accidental dialing, otherwise law enforcement may be sent to your location to verify that you are okay.
As the new year begins, a new texting service will become available for Ottawa residents with a hearing or speech impairment. Currently, a TTY machine (teletypewriter) is available for anyone with a speech or hearing impairment. The challenge is, this program is limited to the person’s home. With the new changes, when a hearing or speech impaired Ottawa resident registers with their telephone service provider, they can contact 9-1-1 from anywhere with their cellphone, via texting. The 9-1-1 dispatcher will then text and call the number, in order to ascertain the caller’s injury and complete the emergency response process.
The emergency service provided through 9-1-1 is vital to all Canadians. We hope these tips help residents understand the parameters for 9-1-1 use.
If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury resulting from an accident, the experienced lawyers at Burn Tucker Lachaîne are available to respond quickly to your needs. Call us today to discuss your legal rights, and to learn how we can help you to get you fair compensation for your injuries.
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