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9-1-1 Response

9-1-1 is an easy to remember telephone number that will provide you with direct access to all emergency service providers in British Columbia, including Ambulance, Police, and Fire.

You can dial 9-1-1 from any telephone and without a coin when using a public telephone.

9-1-1 provides priority access to emergency services and should only be used when immediate response is required. 

Call 9-1-1 for emergency medical care if someone has any of the following symptoms:

  • pain or tightness in the chest;
  • choking or breathing difficulties;
  • shortness of breath;
  • possible fractured/broken bones, or a wound that may need stitches;
  • sudden, severe headaches; vision problems; sudden weakness; numbness and/or tingling in the face, arm or leg; trouble speaking; or dizziness.
If in doubt about whether you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

If you are not experiencing a medical emergency, call 8-1-1 for confidential health information and advice, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
When you contact 9-1-1, be prepared to answer questions, listen carefully, speak clearly and try to remain calm. 

BC Ambulance Service emergency medical call-takers are experienced ‘question askers’. Their persistence provides specific information to the attending paramedics. 

The call-taker will ask you for the following information:

  • The location of the emergency (so we know where to send the ambulance)
  • The apartment number and access code if applicable
  • A telephone number (so we can contact you if the call is cut off)
  • A description of what is happening
While the ambulance is travelling to the location, the call-taker will ask you some simple questions about the condition of the patient. This will help the paramedics understand the details of the situation. 

Some examples of the questions you may be asked are:

  • Is the patient conscious?
  • Is the patient breathing?
  • Does the patient have chest pain?
  • Is there any severe bleeding?
Call-takers need to ask you specific questions in a specific order to help you as quickly and effectively as possible. 

Remain on the line to provide additional information if requested to do so by the call-taker.
  • Clear a path to the patient (move furniture and unlock doors)
  • If possible have someone wait outside to meet the ambulance
  • Be sure your house number is clearly visible from the street
  • If you live in a house, turn on the outside lights at night
  • If you live in an apartment, try to meet the ambulance at the lobby door and have the elevator ready
  • Do not move the patient, unless their life is threatened

VoIP phones

Internet and cable-based telephones, also known as voice over internet protocol (VoIP) or broadband telephones, look and function like traditional telephones, but use a high-speed internet or cable connection to make and receive calls. 

Like a computer, these phones are not associated with a fixed physical address. This can present challenges for emergency service providers, as some internet phones use technology that does not transfer important safety information such as home address and telephone numbers to 9-1-1 call centres.

9-1-1 calls placed from VoIP phones are generally routed to a third-party service provider that in turn transfers the call to the closest 9-1-1 centre, but without address information. BC Ambulance Service (BCAS) advises British Columbians who use internet or cable-based phones to contact their VoIP phone providers to find out what emergency features are included in their package or offered by the company.
SOURCE: 9-1-1 Response ( )
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