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How to use 911 dispatch

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What do you do when you find yourself facing an emergency outside the Perimeter?

Here’s some important information you need to be aware of when calling 911 from a cellphone from outside the Perimeter Highway or in a rural community in Manitoba.

All residents and individuals with cellphones, in order to expedite 911 emergency response for police, fire and ambulance services, need to know and understand how the 911 dispatch service works outside the Perimeter Highway.

Outside the Perimeter and in any rural community, 911 emergency response is a provincial responsibility which will dispatch either police, fire or ambulance to your emergency.

Currently, if you reside within the City of Winnipeg and if your call is made from within or close to the city, your 911 calls will be dispatched from the city’s 911 communications centre with city emergency personnel. This City of Winnipeg entity directs all 911 responders when cellular calls are made within the city or in close proximity to the cellular towers which serve the city.

If you live outside the Winnipeg area and call from a cellphone, you must advise that you want the 911 provincial communications centre; otherwise, your call will be routed to the city’s 911 communication centre.

Unfortunately, with current technology, the operators who dispatch your call to 911 response are not able to confirm if your call is originating from communities in close proximity to the city or in a nearby community, such as West St. Paul or East St. Paul.

In order to ensure your call gets routed through the correct dispatch and that precious minutes are not lost due to confusion, please ensure you advise the operator of the community you’re in, and whenever possible please provide the address where emergency response is required or, at a minimum, good directions if you’re unfamiliar with your surroundings.

Alternately, you can provide landmarks  or observations you may have noticed, or can see from your location. These will be helpful for the emergency responders in locating you and assisting in your emergency.

Stay calm, and give as much information that you can provide when answering the questions the operator is asking. If you’re on a highway, or an area that may be difficult to locate, make sure that you have your emergency flashers activated on your vehicle and describe the vehicle or the scene, so that the operator sends the appropriate responders to your emergency.

Stay in contact with the dispatcher at all times or assign someone if you can to stay on the line if your help is needed by an injured person. In most cases, local emergency responders can meet response times that would be similar to the response times of agencies within the city.

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