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Your location is the most important thing to know when calling 911

July 3, 2020

Your location is the most important thing to know when calling 911

As you travel around Winnipeg, it’s important to know where you are at all times in the event you, or someone with you, require emergency assistance.

“Knowing your location can be the most important thing to have on hand when calling 911,” said Tammy Jewell, manager of the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service 911 Communications Centre.

She added that it’s a widely accepted myth that 911 officers can trace a caller’s exact locations via cellphone GPS systems, but that isn’t exactly the case.

“While 911 infrastructure and technology are evolving, the system’s capabilities are not there yet,” explained Jewell.

Parents are encouraged to take the time to remind their children of their address and phone number in case they have to call 911 on their own. The phone number is needed in case the call becomes disconnected.

Jewell also said residents should always try to remain calm when calling 911 and try to answer all questions. It’s always best if the person calling 911 is with the person needing help. She said sometimes relatives will call from a different location which makes it difficult to get accurate information.

When you phone 911, the call is initially answered by the Winnipeg Police Service and is then triaged to determine the best emergency service to respond.

Depending on the emergency, the call will either be transferred to the WFPS Communications Centre or stay with police. If the call is transferred to the WFPS Communications Centre, employees there will continue to ask questions so the best help can be dispatched.

“When you call, you will speak with a highly-trained telecommunicator skilled in medical dispatching and fire dispatching protocols,” said Christian Schmidt, WFPS Deputy Chief of Operations and Communications. “They aren’t seen by members of the public but the work they do and the comfort they provide to callers is imperative.”

Emergency and Safety