How 911 Works

When a caller dials 911, the Medicine Hat 911 call-taker asks “What is your emergency?”  The next question will be “For what town or city?”  The 911 call-takers job is to then connect the caller as quickly as possible to the proper agency the caller has requested.  The entire process usually takes around 25-30 seconds.

What if the caller doesn’t know what service they need?

If a caller is unsure of what service they need, the Medicine Hat 911 call-taker is trained to interrogate to help determine which agency is required and will connect the caller accordingly.

What is the difference between a call-taker and dispatcher?

The call-taker is the person who normally speaks with the person who has dialed 911.  The dispatcher is the person who speaks with the emergency personnel in the field.  There are times when the dispatcher will be the call-taker, however they work together, sharing information through computer and radio systems, which allow for the instant and seamless passing of information.

Does Medicine Hat 911 receive a lot of unnecessary 911 calls?

Medicine Hat 911 receives numerous accidental 911 calls each day, due in large to people programming 911 into their phones, or cell phones that are in positions where keys are accidentally pressed.  Never program 911 into any phone, and stow your phones carefully.

It is most important for callers to know that 911 is for emergencies only – it is not an information line.  During a major disaster or event, residents should use their televisions and radios, not 911 to get up-to-date information.

What happens if I dial 911 accidentally?

The best thing you can do is just remain on the line and tell us!  If you hang up – our call-takers must now take the time to call you back to confirm you are OK, or send police to check on you.  If you dial us by mistake, you will not be charged a fee, so there is no need to be concerned.