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When should you dial 911? When 'every second counts,' Coquitlam RCMP say

Coquitlam Mounties are encouraging the public to understand when it's appropriate to call for emergency services, and when it's not.
calling 911 getty images
Coquitlam RCMP is reminding local residents to know when it's truly appropriate to call 9-1-1.

Do kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem) First Nation, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Anmore and Belcarra residents truly know when they should call 911?

That's what RCMP are hoping to bring to light as the local detachment looks to ensure that all of its resources are free for a real emergency.

Mounties recently released a series of tips for the public to absorb and understand when it's appropriate to dial those three all-important numbers, and when the non-emergency line should be utilized.

"By dialing the correct number in the right circumstance, you can save time which allows us to help to those in need as quickly as possible," said Natalie Kroeker, telecommunication operator with Coquitlam RCMP, in a statement on Friday (Aug. 11).

"Knowing the difference, can help make the reporting process smoother and more efficient," added RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Alexa Hodgins.


The purpose of emergency services provide an immediate response when required, RCMP explain.

The number-one reason listed by police to call 911 is when someone's life is in danger and when "every second counts."

Other scenarios include:

  • When a crime is in progress....
    • A fight, a break-and-enter or violent occurrence involving a weapon
  • When there has been a motor vehicle accident with significant injuries
  • When you are witnessing an erratic or possibly impaired driver

If any of the above relates to an emergency situation, you're asked to provide the following when speaking with an operator:

  • Identify your location
    • "Emergency operators will need to know where you are so they can dispatch the help you need. If you don't know the exact address, provide an intersection, highway exit sign, cross street or landmark. This will assist the police in getting to your location faster."
  • Let the trained operator take control of the conversation and get all the necessary information
    • "A 911 operator is trained to work through the questions in a systematic order, so the questions may seem very quick or rapid fire. But, this is the only way to gather the information as quickly as possible so a police person can be safely dispatched."
  • Answer all the questions
    • "The operator will continue to ask you questions to gather information about you and the situation to pass on to police who are on the way to the scene."
  • Stay calm
    • "Speak clearly and give the operator as much detail as possible."
  • Remain where you are unless you are in danger. 

Do not:

  • Use text messaging to call 911.
    • "Text messaging does not allow our operators to ask questions and understand the urgency of the situation (For the hearing impaired community, the best method for communicating with 911 remains the TTY format)."
  • Program 911 into any telephone as this may lead to accidental calls.
  • Avoid accidental calls to 911
    • "Do not store your mobile phone in your pockets while driving or in a car."

Emergency calls can not be reported via e-mail, text message or social media, Mounties added.

If you accidentally dial 911, RCMP ask that the caller stay on the line to speak with an operator as this can help ensure everyone's safety and well-being.


Non-emergency reports involve situations where a crime has already been committed and there is no immediate risk to the public.

These reports can be made by telephone or on-line and may include a follow-up by a police officer. Reports should be directed to the jurisdiction that the crime occurred to ensure proper follow up by the appropriate agency.

A non-emergency situation may include:

  • When a crime has already been committed and no suspects are present
  • Suspicious activity or circumstance or less serious nuisance behaviour
  • When you want a follow-up on an already reported crime

To make a non-emergency report, you're encouraged to consider:

For more information, you can visit the Coquitlam RCMP's website.