Don’t get us wrong - technology is a great thing. But the growing use of new gadgets and social media doesn’t always mix well with the tool that may one day save your life: 911. Following a few simple steps could make all the difference in you getting the help you need.
If your life were being threatened, how would you contact the police? Well, a third of Canadians actually think help would show up following a simple tweet or post on Facebook, (Ipsos Reid, 2012). While social media has quickly become part of our daily communications, this is one instance where the old rules still apply.
RCMP Emergency Communication Centres do not monitor social media; calling 911 is only way to seek urgent assistance. Our operators are available 24/7, and are specially trained to handle all kinds of emergencies.
Ever accidentally dialed someone when your cell phone is in your pocket? You’re not alone. Of the 101,000 911 calls received by Surrey RCMP in a one-year period (2010-2011), a whopping one third of them (31%) were “abandoned,” which includes those who accidently “pocket-dialed.” Nationally, abandoned 911 calls are increasing in frequency, escalating due to technology and mobile device designs. This places huge demands on RCMP resources; when a call is abandoned, officers must still be dispatched to determine if the call is legitimate or false. Needless to say, that leaves less resources available for true emergencies.
When you call 9-1-1, make sure you have an address or precise location. Most mobile devices now have GPS technology for emergency services to locate you, but that only goes so far. For instance, if you are in an apartment building, it would be extremely difficult and time consuming to locate you.
Be aware that if you use a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service, your 9-1-1 call may not connect directly to the appropriate emergency service. Ensure your internet provider has an up-to-date address for you in the event that you are unable to verify your location.