City of Winnipeg recognizes 911 Public Safety Communicators during National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week

City of Winnipeg recognizes 911 Public Safety Communicators during National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week

Released: 2:02 p.m.

Winnipeg, MB – The City of Winnipeg is celebrating the important work of our Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) and Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service (WFPS) 911 call takers and dispatchers during National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, April 11-17, 2021. National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week is an opportunity to recognize all emergency telecommunications personnel for their frontline service to our community. Throughout the pandemic, they’ve adapted to enhanced safety and dispatch protocols while continuing to keep both citizens and first responders safe.

In times of intense personal crises, emergencies within the community and global pandemics, WPS and WFPS 911 call takers and dispatchers are the public’s first point of contact for reaching all levels of emergency assistance, including police, fire, and ambulance. The City employs 165 WPS and 911 WFPS call takers and dispatchers. In 2020, the City’s emergency telecommunications team answered over 600,000 calls from residents.

“I want to thank our WPS and WFPS emergency telecommunicators for the work they do in keeping our residents and our first responders safe,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of touring the communications centres to see their working environment firsthand and meeting many of these exceptional staff. We’re fortunate to have such dedicated, professional telecommunicators who are continually there for us in difficult moments.”

“I can’t say enough about the work done by Winnipeg’s 911 Communication Centre members, who continually go above and beyond for Winnipeggers – often under very trying and stressful circumstances ” said Winnipeg Police Service Chief Danny Smyth. “They are a trusted lifeline for citizens, ensuring we can get help to those in need when they most need it. They also play a pivotal role in keeping our emergency responders safe and informed.”

“Our telecommunicators are the FIRST of our first responders. They are the lifeline between the community and the help residents need during emergencies of all types,” said Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service Chief John Lane. “Our frontline first responders rely on our telecommunicators to provide advance information about every emergency event. The information our 911 call takers and dispatchers provide assists responders in the developing a safe plan of action for the public and emergency crews. This work has proven even more important over the last year.”

In Winnipeg, all incoming 911 calls are received by a WPS 911 call taker who will request the location and the nature of the emergency. The call taker will then triage the call to either the WPS or WFPS communications centre depending on the information received from the caller.

How You Can Help When Contacting 911

The WPS and WFPS telecommunicators remind the public of a few tips when making 911 emergency calls:

  • Try your best to remain calm and answer all questions asked by the 911 call taker.
  • Know the location of the emergency. This is the most important piece of information needed when someone calls 911. Locations come in many forms including a proper street address, an intersection, a landmark, or a commonplace name (such as a store, school, or arena).
  • Remain calm and answer all questions asked by the 911 call taker, including your phone number. This allows the 911 call taker to call you back should the call become disconnected.
  • On very rare occasions, you may get a recorded message when dialing the 911. Do not hang up. Your call will be answered as soon as a 911 call taker is available.
  • Always remain on the line until the 911 operator tells you to disconnect. This will ensure the proper resources are sent and will allow them to provide you with pre-arrival instructions.
  • Always ensure your phone is properly locked before placing it in your pocket, purse or backpack. On average, between 15-25% of all calls received by 911 call takers are accidental. If you accidentally dial 911, do not hang up. If you hang up, a ring-back will occur and this ties up emergency services. Stay on the line to advise the 911 call taker that you have dialed by accident, and answer any questions they may have.
  • Do not allow children to have access to old cell phones because although deactivated, these phones can still dial 911 and be used to generate false or prank calls.

It is very important citizens only call 9-1-1 in an emergency.

Examples of When to Call 9-1-1

  • For a life-threatening emergency (e.g. someone cannot breathe, has severe bleeding, chest pain, a change of consciousness, or someone was seriously injured in a motor vehicle collision).
  • You see a fire, even if the fire is on a stove or outside.
  • A smoke detector, carbon-monoxide detector, or fire alarm is sounding, or you smell smoke or gas.
  • You see a crime in progress, or you are a victim of a crime that just occurred such as a robbery, assault, domestic-violence situation, or break-in to a residence or business.
  • You are concerned for someone’s safety or wellbeing.
  • When in doubt whether emergency assistance is needed, make the call to 9-1-1 and a Call Taker will assess the situation.

Should you require non-urgent police or paramedic assistance, the following phone numbers may be helpful alternatives to calling 9-1-1:

  • For police-related non-emergency calls: 204-986-6222 (Winnipeg Police Service).
  • For non-emergency transports to and from a medical facility:  204-986-6336 (Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service).

Who to Call for COVID-19 Information

Residents should contact Health Links-Info Santé at 204-788-8200 or 1-888-315-9257 (toll-free) if they’re experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

For additional information on 911, visit Winnipeg Police Service – Reporting Emergencies.  

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