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How to Use 911

What is 911?

911 is an easy to remember telephone number that will access all emergency services within Thunder Bay: Ambulance, Police, and Fire.  You can dial 911 from any telephone, and you don't need to pay when using a public telephone.

This page will refer to medical emergencies.

When to call 911

You should use 911 only in an emergency.  911 gives people priority access to emergency service and should be reserved for those who really need it.  Sometimes it is difficult to know whether your problem is serious enough to call 911.  The following examples may help you when in determining when to call for 911 assistance:

  • When you are experiencing pain or tightness in the chest.
  • When you have severe pain.
  • When you have shortness of breath.
  • When a person is choking or having difficulty breathing.
  • When you think you may have fractured or broken a bone, or have a wound that may need stitches.
  • When you have sudden, severe headaches, vision problems, sudden weakness, numbness and / or tingling in the face, arm or leg, trouble speaking, or dizziness.
  • If your child has diarrhea and vomiting won't eat or drink.
  • When a baby under six months has a fever over 38.5° c (101° f)

If you have any doubts about whether you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911.  The ambulance will take you to the appropriate emergency department.

What to expect when you call 911

When you call 911, remember to stay calm and give clear information.  Be prepared to provide the following information:

You will be asked whether you need police, fire, or ambulance. 

For medical emergencies you will be transferred to the Emergency Medical Dispatcher, who will ask you the following information:

  • The location of the emergency.
  • A description of what is happening.
  • Your name, address, and telephone number.
  • The apartment number and access code if applicable.

Please remember that the Emergency Medical Dispatcher needs to ask you specific questions in a specific order to help you as quickly and effectively as possible. 

Remain on the line to provide additional information if requested to do so by the call taker.

What else should I do?

After you have given your information to the dispatcher, the following points will help the paramedics to help you:

  • Clear a path to the patient by moving furniture and unlocking doors.
  • If possible have someone meet the ambulance.
  • Be sure your house number is clearly visible from the street.
  • If you live in a house, turn the lights on at night.
  • If you live in an apartment, try to meet the ambulance at the lobby door and have the elevator ready.
  • Do not move the patient, unless life is threatened.