The Good and Bad News about Cell Phones

E-Comm 9-1-1 call takers respond to thousands of calls each day and we estimate that close to 50% of those calls come from cell phones.

There is no question that cell phones play a huge role in reporting emergency situations including injuries and crime. However, there is also a down-side to cell phone use.

If you have a cell phone...do you know you may have called 9-1-1 without even knowing it?

What many cell-phone users don't realize is that some older cell phones have come from the manufacturer with a pre-programmed 9-1-1 function that can be accidentally depressed.

For example, on some cell phones, the "one" key may be red while the other numbers are not. If you depress this key for more than a few seconds, it will automatically call 9-1-1 even if the phone's keyguard (lock) is on.

In addition, if you program 9-1-1 into any phone yourself, it can cause accidental 9-1-1 calls. We are asking cell phone users to store their cell phones carefully and never program 9-1-1 into their phones.

E-Comm 9-1-1 call-takers receive hundreds of these accidental 9-1-1 calls which tie up the 9-1-1 lines. What's more, our call-takers are compelled to stay on the line until they are sure it is a legitimate call or the caller is okay. They have countless stories of radios blaring, conversations between husbands and wives and in one instance a comedian doing his show in front of a live audience!

If you dial 9-1-1 from a residential or business phone then the E-Comm computer system will display the name, phone number and address connected to the phone that you have dialled from. The call-taker will confirm the location information with you. This way, if you are disconnected at any time, the call-taker can call you back. In the case of a business, the main number is displayed not direct lines or locals.

However, if you dial 9-1-1 from a cell phone, the only information displayed is the phone number*. Your location is not known either and that is why it is so important that you know your location at all times and to provide your cell phone number as soon as you are asked. If you have not communicated this information and your call is disconnected, we have no way of knowing where to send help.

*At present, only select cellular companies provide caller information to E-Comm. No cellular carriers provide location information in Canada.

Please do your part and use 9-1-1 responsibly.

Please make sure any phone you use does not have 9-1-1 on speed dial.

More information on 9-1-1: 9-1-1 Fact Sheet