Yellowknifers should call 911 during emergencies, city says

·1 min read
An ambulance in Yellowknife in 2021. In a fire or medical emergency, people in Yellowknife can call 911, which is run by the territory, or 867-873-2222, which is operated by the city — though the city now suggests people call 911. (Jay Legere/CBC - image credit)
An ambulance in Yellowknife in 2021. In a fire or medical emergency, people in Yellowknife can call 911, which is run by the territory, or 867-873-2222, which is operated by the city — though the city now suggests people call 911. (Jay Legere/CBC - image credit)

Yellowknifers who need help in an emergency should call 911, the city's director of public safety says.

911 went live in 2019 and is run by the territory, while the city operates seven-digit fire and medical response numbers (the local prefixes, plus 2222). For nearly three years, people in Yellowknife have been told they can call either 911 or 2222 for help in a fire or medical emergency.

Craig MacLean, Yellowknife's director of public safety, said Thursday that it's "best practice in North America to use 911," and he advises Yellowknifers to use it.

"That's why it exists, right? It's easily rememberable. It's easily identifiable," he said.

"Even from a social aspect — I mean, you watch TV these days and you know how many shows are out there about emergency services and 911, and things like that. Those things are programmed into people."

He said calls that come in to 911 are processed and sent to the city, which then dispatches people to respond.

As of last year, 70 per cent of emergency calls were still going to the 2222 number and city administrators were looking to beef up Yellowknife's own dispatch service, despite pushback from city council.

At that time, it wasn't clear which number would provide a more efficient emergency response.

The issue prompted the territory and the city last fall to "jointly assure" people in Yellowknife that they can call either number in a fire or medical emergency.

McLean said Thursday the 2222 number is still an option because many people from the N.W.T. are used to it and still call it.

"In the interest of public safety, we would not want to shut those numbers down," he said.