Five on the Fifth - 9-1-1 Awareness


2017-04-05 09:13 PDT

Under the Official Languages Act, this office provides services to the public in English only. You will find general information in both official languages at and

Aux termes de la Loi sur les langues officielles, ce bureau n'offre des services au public qu'en anglais. Vous trouverez des renseignements généraux dans les deux langues officielles au et

call 911 in an emergency.

April 9th-15th is Emergency Service Dispatchers and 9-1-1 Awareness Week so this month’s five on the fifth is all about how you can help us help you in case of an emergency. From knowing what to do if you accidentally call 9-1-1 to being prepared for the questions our 9-1-1 operators will ask if you ever need to call for real, take a moment to learn five lesser known facts about 9-1-1 services and how you can help keep your family and your community safer.

  1. The trouble with cellphones. Having a cellphone is convenient but calling 9-1-1 from a cellphone means important information, like the address you’re calling from, is not automatically available to the call taker. With more and more families getting rid of landlines in favour of cellphones, it is critically important that children know their address from a very early age so they are prepared in case of an emergency. Take for example a recent incident in Britain where a four-year old boy is being hailed a hero for calling emergency services from his unconscious mother’s cellphone. The mom received medical attention because the little boy knew his home address.
  2. If you call 9-1-1 by mistake, don’t hang up. If you accidentally dial 9-1-1, stay on the line to let the 9-1-1 operator know that you are OK and that you dialed in error. If you hang up, we still have to make sure that you are OK. In the best case scenario, we call you back, you pick up and confirm that you are OK. In the worst case scenario, we call back and you don’t pick up so we devote resources to tracking your location and dispatching a police officer to find you.
  3. Practice safe dialing. The number of false or abandoned 9-1-1 calls we receive has dropped from approximately 10% to 6.5% of all calls for service between 2015 and 2016. While the decrease is great, it still means we an average of 117 9-1-1 calls each day that are false or abandoned, including pocket dials and other glitches and mistakes. You can help avoid adding to the by programming our non-emergency number, 604-945-1550, in your phone instead of 9-1-1 and by storing your cellphone with the screen locked.
  4. Help us help you: be ready for questions. The men and women who answer 9-1-1 calls are professionally trained to make sure you get the help you need as quickly as possible. This means asking a lot of questions. In a crisis, that can feel like it takes forever but every one of them is necessary. The best thing you can do when you call 9-1-1, is try to stay calm and answer the 9-1-1 operator’s questions.
  5. Not so funny. Pranks are not a new thing in policing, however with social media they have the potential to have greater reach. Take for example the Siri 108 prank that surfaced recently. iPhone users are told to ask Siri to dial 1-0-8 for hilarious results. What happens is Siri dials emergency services thanks to a feature of Apple devices: dialing an emergency services number from anywhere in the world will connect you with emergency services where you are. A great feature when you need it…but potentially deadly as a prank. (We can confirm the feature has been tested and it works and we urge you not to try it yourself unless you are in an actual emergency).

 Five on the fifth is an occasional series of five lesser known facts about well-known crime and safety issues. Five on the Fifth is compiled and released by the Coquitlam RCMP Communications and Public Affairs Team when the 5th of the month falls on a weekday. Follow #FiveOnTheFifth on Twitter to get the latest updates.

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