You never know when you will need 9-1-1

During Emergency Medical Services Week, May 15 to 21, the Ottawa Paramedic Service wants to remind residents what they can do to help themselves, and paramedics, when a medical emergency occurs.

When someone you know falls seriously ill, calling 9-1-1 is a lifeline. Every day in Ottawa, paramedics respond to over 300 calls for medical emergencies. Many of those are life-threatening calls for heart attacks, breathing emergencies or for those who suffer serious injuries.

When calling 9-1-1 for a medical emergency, dispatchers will forward your call to the Ottawa Paramedic Service Communications Centre. There are a number of things to remember if this occurs:

  • Communications officers will ask several key questions that assist them in determining the seriousness of the call. By staying calm and answering all questions, you are helping the person with the medical emergency receive help sooner.

  • While answering questions, the dispatch system is sending paramedics to your location. Never hang up until the communications officer tells you to do so.

  • Collect all medications and medical history of the patient and have it ready when paramedics arrive.

  • Keep all pets out of harm’s way by placing them in a closed room before arrival of paramedics.

  • For serious injuries, communications officers are trained to provide callers with first aid instructions that will assist the person with the medical emergency. Communications officers can also provide CPR instructions.

You never know when you will need to call 9-1-1 for a medical emergency. The Ottawa Paramedic Service recommends a few simple steps you can take right now to prepare for that call:

  • Have the civic address well displayed on your residence. It should be clearly visible at night time and from across the street from your home.

  • Keep an updated list of medical problems, medications and allergies for all occupants of the home.

  • When a medical emergency occurs, it can be very stressful for all involved. To assist seniors, children or visitors to your home who may have to call 9-1-1, place instructions on or near the telephone with information on how to access your apartment or home. This should include address, ring codes, closest major intersection or any other access information that will get paramedics to your location sooner.

These are just a few tips that will benefit the patient in a time of crisis. The Ottawa Paramedic Service recommends that everyone take a First Aid and CPR courses. You can find several listed at

For more information about the Ottawa Paramedic Service, please call our customer service line at 613-580-4771 or visit