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When to call 911

When a fire, police or medical emergency is seen, it is advisable to call 911 to contact help. Mostly, all of Canada's areas are covered by this helpline; however, there may be some remote rural areas where there are local numbers to call. As well, all urban and suburban areas are covered by the 911 code system.

It is to be noted that all calls to 9-1-1 are free, including calls made by pay phones or cell phones. However, please note that calls must be urgent, such as: if witnessing a crime that has just occurred or is occurring and visible to you; if you see an uncontrolled fire; if medical help is immediately required; if someone is trapped, drowning or taken a severe fall (think life and limb); if something catastrophic has occurred that has the potential to become much worse or could endanger human life (e.g., a landslide on the road, tree down over power lines, flooding) Remember DO NOT CALL 9-1-1 to obtain information, to make a complaint, to report a power outage, or for highway or weather information. The police will respond, and you will be fined for abusing emergency services.

Firstly, you will be asked to state the nature of the emergency: fire, police, or ambulance. Then, the operator will ask you to describe the full details of the emergency. It is essential to explain what has happened to judge the care needed. The operators are very knowledgeable and will assist you on the phone till the emergency service reaches your door. You will be asked to be with the patient in case of medical care is needed. Therefore, it is better to keep calm and cooperate with the emergency services.

Canada has government-sponsored health care, but non-Canadian travelers should be advised that Canada will not cover the costs of medical services for visitors, so health and travel insurance are essential.


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