City of Winnipeg recognizes 911 call takers and dispatchers during National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week

Winnipeg – 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 for National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, April 9-14, 2018. National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week is an opportunity to recognize all emergency telecommunications personnel for their front line service to our community.

“Our 911 operators are a critical part of Winnipeg’s emergency services team,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “Our Winnipeg Police Service and Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service emergency telecommunications members are there for us around the clock, 365 days a year, to listen and respond during some of the most difficult moments in our lives. National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week is a perfect time to recognize and thank all of them for their dedication and commitment to help keep us safe and respond in times of need.”

“We are extremely proud of the commitment exhibited by our Police Communications Centre staff,” said Chief Danny Smyth of the Winnipeg Police Service. “They can be counted on to serve as that crucial first point of contact in emergent situations, holding their composure under some of the most demanding circumstances. The hope is one would never have to call 911 for assistance, but for anyone who has to make that call, the value of their presence and efforts are immeasurable”

"Our telecommunicators are the lifeline between the community and the public safety service they need during emergencies of all types," said Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service Chief John Lane. "Frontline first responders are assisted by telecommunicators on every call as 911 call takers and dispatchers provide advance information about the emergency event that is occurring. This information assists responders in the developing a safe plan of action for the public and emergency crews."

In times of intense personal crisis and/or emergencies within the community, 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 WFPS 911 call takers and dispatchers. In 2017, the City’s emergency telecommunications team answered just over half a million calls made to 911.

WFPS telecommunicators play a key role in the effective delivery of emergency medical services to the public. The WFPS recently introduced a new Voluntary Transport to Drop-In Shelters Protocol to improve safety for at-risk individuals. As part of the new protocol, WFPS telecommunicators connect patients with safe transportation to drop in shelters as provided by Downtown Winnipeg BIZ, Main Street Project and The Salvation Army.

Advances in communication technology have provided emergency telecommunications personnel with new ways to communicate with residents. The City’s emergency telecommunicators use the “Text with 911” service to communicate with a deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired residents during an emergency, using wireless text messaging (SMS).

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.

The WPS and WFPS call takers and dispatchers would like to remind the public of a few tips when making 911 emergency calls:

  • Tell the 911 call taker the nature and location of the emergency as soon as they ask for it.
  • Give the 911 call taker your phone number, so that if the call gets disconnected, they can call you back.
  • 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.
  • Remain on the line and answer any questions the 911 call taker may have. This will ensure the proper resources are sent.
  • 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 deactivated cell phones because although deactivated, these phones can still dial 911 and be used to generate false or prank calls.

For additional tips information on 911, visit Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service - 911 Information or Winnipeg Police Service - Make the Right Call.