Calling 9-1-1

What happens when I call 9-1-1 for Emergency Medical Services?

Initially, a caller will contact a 9-1-1 operator who will direct them to one of three emergency service operators; police, ambulance or fire service, depending on the nature of the emergency. When the call is directed to the London Central Ambulance Communication Centre, the caller’s address and telephone number are displayed to the call receiver, provided they have called in on 9-1-1 from a residence or business (not cellphone).

When the pick-up location (patient location) is confirmed, the information from the display is downloaded into the ambulance communication service’s Computer Aided Dispatch system (CAD). The Ambulance Communications Officer (ACO) will then ask the caller a series of questions to prioritize the emergency call. Once a priority has been decided, the call is sent to the assigned ACO for paramedic unit assignment.

While the ambulance is on the way, the ACO will continue to ask some scene-specific questions (e.g. entrance location) and then provide the caller with instructions on how to help the patient prior to the arrival of paramedics. These instructions include basic first aid and depending on the severity of the patient could also give callers instructions on CPR, and assist choking patients.

You will also receive instructions from the ACO to do important things that will assist the paramedics when they arrive. Those instructions include unlocking doors, turning on lights, putting away any pets and gathering medication and/or doctors’ information.