When to call 9-1-1

9-1-1 is a three-digit telephone number that connects callers with trained emergency operators.

Call 9-1-1 for medical, fire and police emergencies, including crimes in progress.

The 9-1-1 telephone system has an Automatic Location Identification System and an Automatic Number Identification System which lets the call taker know the address or estimated GPS location and telephone number of the caller.

The 9-1-1 operator will first ask you what emergency service you want “police, fire or ambulance?” If you ask for police, the operator will help you.  If you ask for fire or ambulance, the operator will transfer you to an emergency operator at Fire or Ambulance.

  •  The transfer will take a few seconds
  •  Stay on the line, do NOT hang up
  •  Stay calm
  •  Be prepared to tell the operator the location (address and municipality) and nature of your emergency

An emergency is any situation where people’s safety or property is immediately at risk. It is important that you only call 9-1-1 in emergency situations as using 911 for non-emergency situations limits access to those in need of an emergency response.


How can you help the 9-1-1 operator?

During times when you need 9-1-1, you are more likely to be under a great deal of stress and your emotions can cause you to yell and/or lose focus. Try to remain calm, control your voice level and listen carefully to the operator’s questions. These questions will enable a quicker and most appropriate emergency response.

It is also very important that you STAY ON THE LINE UNTIL YOU ARE ADVISED TO HANG UP. By remaining on the line with the operator, you continue to provide up to the minute information that the operator will continue to share with the responding units.


9-1-1 Response Time

Hamilton Police Service adheres to the Priority Response System.

Once you have spoken to a dispatcher, do not call back to 9-1-1 to ask for an estimated time of arrival (ETA). Our dispatchers cannot provide you with an ETA.


Mobile Response

 A mobile response will be provided for:

  •  Crimes in progress (against persons and property);
  •  Incidents where people’s safety is at risk;
  •  Incidents where suspects are at the scene or in the immediate area;
  •  Incidents where there is significant physical evidence to be gathered

Text with 9-1-1 (T-9-1-1)

The Hamilton Police Service now offers Text with 9-1-1 service to persons who are Deaf, Deafened, Hard of Hearing or Speech Impaired (DHHSI).  To initiate this service, DHHSI persons must:

  • Have a compatible cell phone and active wireless subscription. It is recommended that users contact their wireless provider to confirm their cell model is supported.
  • Register with their wireless service provider to enable this service.

To use this service:

  • Users will continue to call 9-1-1.  A text sent to the digits 9-1-1 will not be delivered to emergency services.  As the 9-1-1 operator answers the call normally, they will also receive a notification that this caller’s phone is registered with the Text with 9-1-1 service.
  • If no answer to the operator’s voice question is received, the operator will then begin sending text messages to the registered phone.

In Canada, Text with 9-1-1 (T9-1-1) is only available to the DHHSI community.  For more information about T9-1-1, including instructional videos in American Sign Language (ASL) visit www.textwith911.ca


9-1-1 calls from a Cell Phone

If you have a choice between using a landline or wireless device to call 9-1-1, the landline should be your first choice. The connection is more secure and the location data is automatically available. Calls made from your wireless device will not display your address to the 9-1-1 call-taker, so you will need to provide as much information as possible about your location.
If you accidently call 9-1-1, stay on the line and advise the call-taker you made a mistake. If you hang up, our 9-1-1 operators will call back to ensure your well-being.

Important Tips to Remember:

  • Unintentional 9-1-1 calls tie up phone lines which negatively impact Emergency Services ability to respond to REAL emergencies.
  • If the cell phone is in your pocket, lock it!  Also keep it in a safe place where it’s secure or use a protective holster.
  • Old cell phones, whether registered or not can still connect to 9-1-1, please take the battery out if your child is using it as a toy.
  • Do NOT program 9-1-1 into any telephone.
  • Do NOT test 9-1-1 to see if it’s working.

9-1-1 calls from a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)

Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) allows you to make and receive phone calls using an Internet connection. Although such technology offers convenience, it also has some limitations.

For instance, unlike a traditional landline telephone, when calling 9-1-1 using a VoIP connection:

  • Nomadic phones calling 9-1-1 must connect to the VoIP service provider's call centre (possibly located in a different city or country) and the call centre must then redirect it to the appropriate 9-1-1 centre.
  • The VoIP service provider's call centre may be sending your emergency call to a non-emergency telephone number. This will result in delays, which could mean the difference between life and death in an emergency.
  • Also, if a caller is non-verbal or if the call is disconnected, the call centre may not be able to determine the address of the emergency.
  • When using nomadic VoIP services, automatic location information is not provided to the 9-1-1 Centre.
  • 9-1-1 service is not available if your Internet connection is down.
  • 9-1-1 service is not available if there is a power failure.

If you accidently call 9-1-1, stay on the line and advise the call-taker you made a mistake. If you hang up, our 9-1-1 operators will call back to ensure your well-being.
V.O.I.P. (Voice over Internet Protocol) Public Alert from the Ontario 9-1-1 Advisory Board click here