Emergency Calls

Calling 911 in an emergency

You should call 911 when there’s a threat to someone’s health, safety or property and emergency help is needed right away. 

What to expect
A 911 Call Taker will answer the call with, “911, what is your emergency?” It is important to stay on the line with the Call Taker and answer all questions.

Expect to be asked for:

  • Your phone number
  • The community or location of the emergency

You will then be transferred to the appropriate emergency agency for response.

No-voice calls
All no-voice calls are presumed to be an emergency until determined otherwise. A no-voice call is when someone calls 911 and the telephone line is open and no one is speaking. 

No-voice calls can happen for many different reasons, like: 

  • Caller is unable or unwilling to speak, or is unconscious. 
  • Caller doesn’t understand the language spoken by the Call Taker.
  • The call is from a Teletype (TTY) device, used by people who are deaf or hard of hearing, or have a speech impairment. 
  • The caller accidentally dialed 911. 

The procedure followed by 911 Call Takers for no-voice calls to determine if it’s an emergency situation is as follows:

  • The 911 Call Taker will ask, “Are you able to speak freely”? 
    • If the caller answers “No”, then the call is treated as an emergency.
    • If there is still no answer, then the Call Taker must listen for anything in the background that can help determine the nature of the call and proceed accordingly. 
  • If the call is determined to be related to an emergency situation, or if there is any doubt by the 911 Call Taker, then a call trace will be completed to determine the location of the caller. 
  • Once the location is determined, the 911 Call Taker will contact the police and provide the details related to the no voice call and provide the location information.

Calls from the deaf, hard of hearing, and communication disability community
There are two ways that NL911 can assist people who are deaf, hard of hearing or have communication disabilities with getting emergency help: 

  1. Each NL911 Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) currently operates a TeleTypewriter (TTY) for people who use TTY. A TTY is a device that a person can type their messages directly to a 911 Call taker who is operating the TTY.
  2. If a person who is deaf, hard of hearing or has communication disabilities, and has no access to TTY, they can call 911 for help on a landline telephone or cell phone. When calls are received where there is no voice response or difficulty understanding the caller, the 911 Call Taker will complete a call trace to determine the location of the caller and assist with contacting emergency services for that location. 

If possible the caller is encouraged to keep repeating the following information:

  • they need help from the police, fire or ambulance,
  • the phone number they are calling from,
  • the address or location of the emergency.

It is essential that these callers remain on the line and repeat the vital information (if possible) so that the 911 Call Taker can identify the correct agency to respond for the area and assist with contacting those emergency responders for help. People who have communication disabilities are encouraged to make any noise to indicate help is needed. For these calls the 911 Call Taker will complete the call trace and assist with contacting emergency help.