Honouring Saskatchewan’s 911 operators who are always on call

Today, Government Relations Minister Warren Kaeding officially proclaimed April 14-20, as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.

During this week, Saskatchewan recognizes the dedication and professionalism of those who are often taken for granted: Sask911 call-takers and provincial emergency dispatchers.

“They are our first point of contact when reporting a fire, medical emergency or criminal act,” Kaeding said.  “When we are experiencing the worst day of our lives, they are the professionals at the other end of the line to support us and send emergency responders to our location.”

In 2018, Sask911 operators took 388,456 calls from across the province.  Of those, 57 per cent or 222,755 were from a cell phone, and 16 per cent were abandoned, meaning a caller hung up after dialing.  If you do accidentally call 911, the Deputy Commissioner of 911 Communications Charlene Luskey recommends that you remain on the line so staff can verify quickly that there isn’t a real emergency.

To prevent accidental 911 calls, Luskey suggests that you:

  • Activate the lock screen on your smartphone after each use to prevent accidental dialing;
  • Manually dial 911 instead of pre-programming the number into your phone; and
  • Teach your children the importance of 911 and when it should, and should not be used.

“During a real emergency, call-takers will ask you what your name is, what emergency services you require and where you are located,” Luskey noted.  “Try to remain calm and do not hang up until you are advised to do so in case more information is required from you.”

Sask911 is overseen by the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency.  Created in 2017, the agency’s mandate was expanded earlier this year to include the emergency management and fire safety responsibilities from the Ministry of Government Relations and the Wildfire Management Branch from the Ministry of Environment.

Transitioning these responsibilities will begin in 2019, but will not impact provincial emergency services for the upcoming spring flood or wildfire seasons.