911 emergency: when to call

You can call 911 if your health, safety or property is threatened and you need help right away. The 911 call taker (operator) will notify emergency responders, like fire, police or ambulance.

Call 911 for emergencies and get connected to the fire, police or ambulance services you need. There is no charge to call 911 from any phone, including pay phones. Anyone in Nova Scotia can call 911.

When to call 911

If your health, safety or property is threatened and you need help right away, call 911. The 911 call taker (operator) will notify emergency responders, like fire, police or ambulance.

When not to call 911

If your issue is not an emergency, don’t call 911. Call takers (operators) need to be available to answer emergency calls.

If you accidentally call 911, don’t hang up. Stay on the line and let the 911 call taker (operator) know that the call was accidental. If you hang up, the call taker (operator) will call you back. If they can’t reach you, emergency services could arrive at your location.

How to call 911

911 from a landline

When you call from a landline, 911 will know:

  • your address
  • your phone number (even if your number isn’t listed or published)
  • police, fire and medical responders for your area

If you call 911 from a landline and you can’t speak, emergency responders will be notified of your address because it appears on the 911 call taker’s (operator’s) screen.

It’s important to have at least 1 landline phone that plugs directly into the wall. Cordless phones need electricity and won’t work during power outages.

911 from a cell phone

When you call 911 from a cell phone, the 911 call taker (operator) will usually know your approximate location. It’s important that you provide details about the location of the emergency.

If you see an emergency while driving, pull over as soon as you safely can and call 911. Tell the 911 call taker (operator) of any distance markers, other road signs or civic numbers in the immediate area. This will help emergency responders find your location.

911 through an internet phone service (VoIP)

When you call 911 over the internet:

  • your call may initially be directed to a third-party call centre outside of Nova Scotia (contact your VoIP provider for more information on how they transfer your call to 911)
  • you might need to provide your phone number and address to the 911 call taker (operator) because they might not have access to this information from your VoIP provider
  • you need power and internet service (if either of these is interrupted, you won’t be able to call 911)

Text with 9-1-1 service (for those with hearing or speech impairments)

If you have a hearing or speech impairment, you can use a service called “Text with 9-1-1” to reach emergency services. To get this service, you need to register your cell phone number with your wireless provider. You also need to ensure you have a cell phone that’s compatible with the Text with 9-1-1 service.

In an emergency, when you call 911 the call taker (operator) automatically receives notification that you’re a registered Text with 9-1-1 user.

911 with a TTY device

911 call takers (operators) can receive and respond to 911 calls directly from individuals who are using a TTY device for the hearing or speech impaired.

If you don’t speak English or French

911 call takers (operators) have access to interpreters in more than 170 languages.