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News Room – Inside the Winnipeg Police Service


National Public Safety Telecommunications

Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service and the Winnipeg Police Service Mark National Public Safety Telecommunications Week

City of Winnipeg emergency telecommunicators from the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service and Winnipeg Police Service, are celebrating National Public Safety Telecommunications Week, from April 14 to 20. Winnipeg holds the unique honour of being the first North American city to implement a central emergency services number.

“As the first North American city to adopt a central emergency services number, Winnipeg has the distinction of being a trailblazer in emergency telecommunications,” said Mayor Sam Katz. “I am proud the City continues to deliver excellent service to our citizens in emergency situations. Public Safety Telecommunications Week is a perfect time to thank our emergency telecommunicators for their role in helping us maintain public safety.”

Things to remember when calling 911:

  • Stay focused and remain calm so you can assist both the telecommunicator/communications operator and any patients or bystanders involved in the emergency.
  • Answer all of the telecommunicator’s questions to the best of your ability. By clearly answering you will help the telecommunicator better understand the emergency situation.
  • Help is typically already on the way while you are speaking with the telecommunicator: their questions are not delaying the response.
  • Remain on the line until the telecommunicator advises that you can disconnect—do not hang up.
  • Be aware that emergency responders are dispatched to emergencies based on priority.
  • Citizens who are required to dial an area code for outgoing calls should note that an area code is not required when dialing 911.

When calling 911 it is important to know the following:

  • The address of the emergency location. Without this information emergency responders may not be able to respond in a timely manner.
  • The phone number you are calling from in case the call is disconnected and the telecommunicator needs to call you back.
  • Information on why you need police, fire or ambulance assistance. This information will better help the telecommunicator determine which emergency service should respond to your call.

City of Winnipeg’s emergency telecommunications history:

Winnipeg adopted 999 as its first emergency services number on June 21, 1959, at the suggestion of Mayor Stephen Juba who learned the benefits of centralized emergency services during a trip to the United Kingdom.

As more cities began to use the centralized emergency communications model, the telecommunications industry began to work toward one standard number. On June 22, 1975, the use of 911, as the number for emergency services, was adopted across North America.

911 was chosen because it not only worked well with the telecommunications technology available at the time, but also because it was easy to remember and easy to dial. 

Current City of Winnipeg emergency telecommunications facts:

The City of Winnipeg has two emergency communications call centres. One centre is used by the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service (WFPS) and the other is used by Winnipeg Police Service (WPS).

On average the WFPS will have 7 to 10 telecommunicators assigned to each shift and the WPS will have approximately 12 to 14 telecommunicators assigned to each shift.

In 2012, WFPS telecommunicators answered 172,0007 calls.

In 2012, WPS telecommunicators answered 273,861 calls.

Training to become an emergency telecommunicator with the City of Winnipeg takes approximately seven months of both classroom and hands-on training.

The City is currently hiring for 19 WFPS emergency telecommunicator positions.

To view an archival photo of Winnipeg’s 999 call centre (pre-911), circa 1968, click here.

For more information on WFPS emergency telecommunications, visit: http://winnipeg.ca/fps/Services/Operations/911CallService/default.stm

For more information on WPS emergency telecommunications, visit:: http://winnipeg.ca/police/TakeAction/reporting_crimes.stm