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Home > Services & Teams > How to Use 911

How To Use 911

What is 911?

911 is an easy to remember telephone number that will access all emergency services within Toronto: Ambulance, Police, and Fire. You call dial 911 from any telephone, and you don't need a coin when using a public telephone. This page will refer primarily to medical emergencies. For information on police emergencies, click here. For information on fire emergencies, click here.

When to call 911

You should use 911 only in an emergency. 911 gives people priority access to emergency services and should be reserved for those who really need it. Sometimes it is difficult to know whether your problem is serious or not. Here are just a few examples* of when you would require emergency medical care - and you should call 911 or go to an emergency department.

  • When you are experiencing pains 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 and won't eat or drink
  • When a baby under six month 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.

Calling 911 if you don't speak English

Even if you don't speak a word of English, help is only minutes away. We have instant access to translators who can help us to help you in more than 170 languages. It is important to remember that in an emergency, calling 911 and letting us access our translators directly will save precious seconds.

If you have family members or friends who don't speak English, it is important to let them know that in the event of an emergency they should dial 911 directly rather than spending time looking for an English speaker to do it. Just call 911 and tell the operator what language you speak. We'll take care of the rest.

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:

The first person you talk to will ask you whether you need police, fire or ambulance and your language if you don't speak English.

If you have a medical emergency, you will be transferred to an Emergency Medical Dispatcher, who will ask you for 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 - move furniture, unlock 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 on the outside lights 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.

Calling from outside Toronto

If you are calling to report a medical emergency ocurring inside Toronto but you are outside Toronto, you may call us at 416-489-2111.

From outside Canada and the United States, this is an international call. If you need help making an international call from your area, you may find assistance at howtocallabroad.com (not affiliated or associated with Toronto Emergency Medical Services or the City of Toronto).

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