Emergency Guide

Emergency 9-1-1

Righting a rollover


For Police - Fire - Ambulance!

Seconds count in an emergency! When you have an emergency in Toronto just dial 9-1-1. It is an easy telephone number to remember.


When police, fire, or medical emergencies occur, 9-1-1 can help save precious time. Your call is answered by a trained emergency call taker who will provide you with the assistance you require. You can also dial 9-1-1 from your cellular phone. The call is toll free.

What is an Emergency?

An emergency is any situation where there are people or property at risk. Examples include fires, crimes in progress or medical emergencies.

What You Should Know When Dialing 9-1-1

  • At home, you can dial 9-1-1 direct
  • At a business or other location, you may need to dial an outside line before dialing 9-1-1
  • At a pay phone, dial 9-1-1. This is a free call. When using a cellular phone be prepared to give the exact location of the emergency. This is also a free call.
  • For TTY access (Telephone Device for the Deaf) press the spacebar announcer key repeatedly until a response is received.
    What You Should Know About Cell Phones and 9-1-1
  • Wire line or land line 9-1-1 calls in the City of Toronto are accompanied by electronic data when they reach our call takers. This electronic data includes your telephone number and civic address. This means that if the connection is lost or the caller cannot speak, help can still be dispatched.
  • In the case of cellular calls, electronic data with location information is not automatically available to the call taker. It is up to the caller to describe the exact location of the emergency.
  • If you have a choice between using a wire line phone or a cell phone to call 9-1-1, the wire line should always be your first choice. The connection is more secure and the location data is available automatically.

Does Your Cellular Provider offer Enhanced Wireless Service?

  • The technology is available in the Toronto 9-1-1 network today to provide the 9-1-1 call taker with the callback number of your handset and the address of the cellular tower that picked up the signal. Both pieces of information can be useful tools to assist the 9-1-1 call taker in getting help to you more quickly. This service is known as Wireless E9-1-1. Even with this additional data, it is still up to the caller to describe the exact location of the emergency.
  • Not all Cellular Service Providers offer this enhanced service, in spite of collecting a monthly 9-1-1 access fee.
  • Companies such as FIDO (Microcell) and Bell Mobility have the Wireless Enhanced 9-1-1 Service deployed City Wide.
  • Check with your Cellular service provider to find out if they offer Wireless Enhanced 9-1-1 on your behalf.

What You Should Know If You Only Have Cellular Service at Home

  • If you or someone you know has decided to give up their wired phone at home in favour of cellular only, we recommend the following precautions.
  • Always be aware of where you have placed your handset. You want it to be easily found (by yourself and/or visitors) at a moment’s notice, at all hours of the day.
  • Always ensure your handset has a fully charged battery. You may feel safer leaving it powered on at all times, ready to dial at a moment’s notice.
  • Understand that even though you are in your home, your home address is not displayed to the 9-1-1 call taker. Be prepared to provide this information verbally.
  • Ensure your carrier has current/accurate subscriber information on file.
  • Understand that some of the common problems with cellular calls do not go away just because you have dialed the digits 9-1-1. Voice transmissions can become distorted and/or interrupted just like any phone call you may place from your cell phone.

Do Not Pre-Program 9-1-1 Into Your Phone's Speed Dial Function

Each day our 9-1-1 emergency call takers deal with a high percentage of false cellular 9-1-1 calls. On sets pre-programmed to dial 9-1-1, keys are often accidentally pressed, setting off unintentional 9-1-1 calls. Consumers unknowingly tie up 9-1-1 telephone lines, unnecessarily tying up the resources of emergency responders and causing a negative impact for true emergency calls for help.

Language Line Services

In 1991, the Toronto Police Service contracted the capabilities of Language Line Services, in order to assist Communications Operators at the 9-1-1 Centre (Communications Centre) to manage calls for service from citizens who do not speak English. This is an over the telephone line interpretation service. Since the inception of the Language Line Service, it is being utilized more than 200 times per month to assist in the management of calls from citizens who do not speak English. Language Fact: Approximately 6,700 languages are spoken in the world today in 228 countries. *

* Ethnologue, Languages of the World, Thirteenth Edition, Barbara F. Grimes, Editor, Copyright © 1996-99, SIL International.

What You Can Do To Help 9-1-1 Help You!

  • Remain calm and speak clearly.
  • Identify which emergency service you require (Police, Fire, or Ambulance) and be prepared to provide the following: what is happening what is the location what is your name, address, and telephone number.
  • Please remain on the line to provide additional information if requested to do so by the call taker.
  • Remember, it is important to have your house numbers visible from the street. This will assist emergency responders in locating you as quickly as possible.

What To Teach Your Children About 9-1-1

Do your children know how to get help in an emergency?

  • Teach your children how and when to get help from 9-1-1.
  • Teach your children their address and telephone number as soon as they are able to learn.
  • Keep it posted by all phones in case they are unsure.
  • Tell your children to answer all of the emergency call takers' questions and stay on the phone until they are told to hang up.
  • Teach your children about the dangers of making prank 9-1-1 calls.

What Are The Dangers Of 9-1-1 Prank Calls?

Prank 9-1-1 calls waste time and money and can also be dangerous. If 9-1-1 lines or responders are busy with prank calls, someone with a real emergency might not get the help that they need.

What Is NOT An Emergency?

It is not an emergency when the situation is not dangerous and immediate action is not necessary. Do not call 9-1-1:

  • For information about school closings, road conditions, directions, etc.
  • For directory assistance.
  • For information about paying parking tickets.
  • When you're bored and just want to talk.

What If Your Complaint Is Not An Emergency?

If your complaint is not an emergency dial 416-808-2222, the non-emergency number for the Toronto Police Service. Use 416-808-2222 for non-emergency calls such as parking complaints, a noisy party, or lost and found articles. You can use your cellular phone for non-emergencies by dialing *TPS. In non-emergency situations the AT&T Language Line Service is available for non-English speaking callers (over 140 languages). The non-emergency number 416-808-2222 and *TPS calls are answered by an "auto attendant". The "auto attendant" allows touch tone phone users to self direct their call. Callers with a rotary phone and those callers that choose the "Zero Out" option are answered by a switchboard operator to connect your call.

(From the Toronto Police Services)