Reporting emergencies & non-emergencies
9-1-1 is a trusted lifeline between the citizens of Winnipeg and the emergency services they need. The system works because the lines are available when they are needed most.
This page provides information on:
- When to dial 9-1-1
- What to expect when you call 9-1-1 in Winnipeg
- Tips for Calling 9-1-1
- Teaching children how to call 9-1-1
- Common questions about 9-1-1
- Reporting non-emergencies to the Winnipeg Police Service
- Questions we will ask concerning person and vehicle descriptions
When to dial 9-1-1?
Call 9-1-1 for in progress or immediate threats to life or property.
This may include situations such as:
- A serious crime in progress or which just occurred (e.g. break & enter, robbery, assault, gunshots, etc.)
- A medical emergency (e.g. heart attack, trouble breathing, etc.)
- A situation where people or property are in danger (e.g. a fire, carbon monoxide detector is sounding, children on ice)
- A motor vehicle collision involving serious injuries.
What to expect when you call 9-1-1 in Winnipeg
A 9-1-1 Operator will answer your call by asking “9-1-1; What is the Location of the Emergency?”
They will then:
- ask what the emergency is
- confirm the location is within the Winnipeg boundaries,
- determine whether you require police, ambulance, or fire, and
- transfer you to speak with a Call Taker for the right agency.
When the 9-1-1 Call Taker answers, they will ask several questions in order to gather enough information to send the appropriate resources.
Tips for calling 9-1-1
Location, location, location.
- Tell us exactly where to send emergency help. This may be an exact address, an intersection, or landmark (e.g. The Forks).
- If it’s a large area, be sure to specify exactly where first responders should attend.
Do your best to stay calm, speak clearly, and answer all questions.
- Staying calm can be one of the most difficult things to do in an emergency, but it’s also one of the most important.
- Listen to the questions and answer to the best of your ability to ensure the right emergency resources are sent.
If you call 9-1-1 by mistake, stay on the line and let the 9-1-1 Operator know that you misdialed.
- If you hang up prematurely, the 9-1-1 Operator will have to call back which ties up resources and may prevent another caller from getting immediate help.
If you hear a recorded message, do not hang up.
- On very rare occasions, 9-1-1 Operators may all be on the phone with other emergencies and you may hear an automated recording. Do not hang-up as your call will be answered as quickly as possible in the order in which it was received.
Call from a safe location & do not endanger yourself
- Do not endanger yourself when calling 9-1-1.
- It is important to call from a place of safety (e.g. if there is fire, get to a safe place before calling), as well, do not to endanger yourself in order to provide things like suspect details.
Do not program 9-1-1 into your phone or device
- 9-1-1 is a three-digit dial to make calling easier. Programming it into a phone can cause accidental dials.
Teaching children how to call 9-1-1
Talk about types of emergencies and that there are people who can help.
- Let them know to trust the 9-1-1 operator and that help will be sent in an emergency – police, paramedics, or firefighters.
Do your children know where the phone is and how to dial 9-1-1?
- Is your phone (landline or cell) accessible for your child to access in an emergency?
- Does your child know how to dial 9-1-1 from both a landline and a cell phone? Keep in mind they may not be at home when they have to call 9-1-1, so it’s important they know how to do so from a variety of devices.
- While practice calling is encouraged, do not do so using a real phone or actually pushing the buttons.
Teach your children to provide important basic information to the 9-1-1 Operator and stay on the line until told to hang up.
- Parent’s Name.
- Telephone Number.
If your child can read, have all of the above information displayed in a consistent location (e.g. on the refrigerator).
Educate your child about the dangers of prank-calling 9-1-1.
- 9-1-1 is for emergencies only and should never be used for a joke or prank call.
- Prank calling 9-1-1 could tie up the phone line and prevent someone else from getting the help they need.
- It could also tie up resources if police have to attend and ensure that everyone is okay.
Deactivated cell phones are not toys.
- Many deactivated cell phones can still call 9-1-1 and be used to generate prank calls or accidentally dial, typing up emergency resources.
Common questions about 9-1-1
Does the 9-1-1 Operator know the location where I am calling from?
- If you’re calling from a landline, the Winnipeg 9-1-1 Operator will generally see your home address and phone number when you dial.
- If you’re calling from a cell phone, the Winnipeg 9-1-1 Operator will not see an address, but may see lat/long coordinates which may or may not be accurate. They may also see your phone number.
Why did I reach a third-party call centre when I called 9-1-1?
- If you are using a VoIP phone service (e.g. a phone that uses IP technology to transmit the call instead of a traditional telephone network), your call may be answered by a third-party call centre first.
- The third-party call centre will subsequently transfer you to the 9-1-1 Operator for your area. IP calls do not currently provide location information to the 9-1-1 Operator. If you move the VoIP phone to another address, make sure that you update your phone provider so that they have the most up-to-date address in case your phone call had to be traced.
What do I do if I called 9-1-1 by mistake?
- Don’t hang up. Stay on the line and let the 9-1-1 Operator know that you misdialed. If you hang-up, the 9-1-1 Operator will call back to make sure everything is okay. In some cases, the police may also be dispatched.
Can I let my child play with an old cell phone?
- Deactivated cell phones are not toys. As many deactivated cell phones are still able to call 9-1-1, monitor your child if they are permitted to use an old phone.
Reporting non-emergencies to the Winnipeg Police Service
The police non-emergency line should be used if you are reporting something that does NOT meet the definition of an emergency, but where police may still be required.
Non-emergency calls may be situations such as:
- suspicious circumstances.
- crimes that are not in progress and where the suspect has left.
- property crimes.
Dial 204-986-6222 to connect with a Call Taker.
The non-emergency police line should only be used for police-related matters.
- For city services, dial 3-1-1.
- A list of Winnipeg Fire Paramedics Service conatct information is available here.
Some police reports can be made online (e.g. some frauds, thefts, damages).
Person and vehicle descriptions
At times, you may be asked by a Police Call Taker to describe a person or a vehicle. Knowing what information that includes may be helpful. These details assist officers so they know who or what they should be looking for.
Person descriptions may include:
- Sex (e.g. male, female, non-binary)
- Race, appearance, and/or complexion
- Age (or birthdate, if known)
- Weight or build
- Colour of hair/eyes
- Clothing (from top to bottom)
- Distinguishing identifiers (e.g. walked with a limp, had a tattoo on face, etc.)
Vehicle Descriptions may include:
- Licence Plate Number & Province or State
- Direction of travel the vehicle was last seen heading
- Number of occupants
- Distinguishing identifiers (e.g. rusty, damage to front passenger side, etc.)