Avoid misuse of 911

Every month, Red Deer 911 operators receive an average of 855 hang-up calls they are required to follow up on, as well as hundreds of intentional calls that are not emergencies - calls about missing pets or noisy neighbours, or crimes that are not in progress. Each of these calls take 911 operators attention from assisting people who might be facing real emergencies.

Every time you call 911 when it’s not an emergency, you potentially endanger someone in your community.

Every non-emergency call ties up 911 operators and forces other callers to be placed on hold – these callers may be facing a real emergency where every second counts. Red Deer RCMP urge the public to avoid misuse of 911 themselves, and to discourage it in others. It’s vital to the safety and health of the community.

911 is for emergencies only

911 is for police, fire, or medical emergencies when immediate action is required: someone’s health, safety or property is in jeopardy or a crime is in progress.

Avoid purse and pocket dialling

Cell phone safety features make it easy to call 911, and that means it’s also easier to do it accidentally. Even if your phone is locked, your keyboard is not. 911 is programmed to go through most phones without your needing to enter your passcode; that means pressing all the keys on a locked phone may result in a 911 call. Phones without keypads, such as iPhones, may still be susceptible, as some newer models have an emergency keypad that can be brought up with a single push of a button without entering your passcode.

  • Don’t program 911 into speed dial. It only takes a second to dial it and, when it’s pre-programmed, it’s easy to dial 911 accidentally.
  • Don’t place your cell phone in a position where keys can be accidentally pressed. Use a case or holster to protect it when you put it away.

Do not let children play with old cell phones

Never give old cell phones to children to use as toys. If a phone has a battery in it, even if it doesn’t have a contract or service or it’s out of minutes, it can still dial 911. And if a child presses all the keys on the key pad, the phone will dial 911.

If you accidentally dial 911, remain on the line

If you accidentally dial 911, it’s important that you stay on the line and tell the 911 operator it was an accident. If you hang up, 911 operators won't know if you are okay and will call back. If you've called from a landline and they can determine your location, they will send police to check on you.

You can be charged for making frivolous or vexatious 911 calls

According to Alberta’s Emergency 911 Act:

9(1): A person who contravenes section 8 (“no person shall make a frivolous or vexatious call”) is guilty of an offence and liable

  • for a first offence, to a fine of not more than $5000, and
  • for a subsequent offence, to a fine of not more than $10 000.

Limitation period

10: A prosecution for an offence under this Act or the regulations may be commenced within 2 years from the date of the contravention but not afterwards.

You can also be charged with Mischief under the Criminal Code.

Program the Red Deer RCMP complaint line into your phone

Add the Red Deer RCMP complaint line to your contacts: 403-343-5575. Then if you’re faced with a situation that requires police assistance but isn’t an emergency, the correct number will be at your fingertips.

Red Deer RCMP would like to thank the public for using 911 responsibly and keeping emergency responders free to deal with urgent situations.