The people who are among the first to offer compassion and assistance to Atlantic Canadians in emergency situations are meeting Tuesday, Oct. 28, and Wednesday, Oct. 29, in Halifax. More than 100 call-takers and 911 service managers from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador are attending the 2008 Atlantic 911 Conference, hosted by the Emergency Management Office (EMO). “Call-takers at 911 centres are the point of first contact for individuals in times of crisis,” said Emergency Management Minister Carolyn Bolivar-Getson. “The calm, caring service they provide helps save countless lives every year.” The conference participants will share best practices and take part in professional development workshops at the Halifax Marriott Harbourfront. “This is a great opportunity for us to learn from one another and from international experts who are delivering some of the key presentations on our agenda,” said Mike Myette, EMO’s director of emergency services and 911. When Nova Scotians dial 911 from a landline or cellphone, the call is answered at one of four centres throughout the province. The call-taker collects vital information, including the nature of the emergency and location, and then connects the call to the appropriate response agency, such as police, fire or ambulance. Nova Scotia’s four 911 call centres in Dartmouth, Sydney, Truro and Kentville, employ 165 call-takers, who handle about 170,000 calls per year. The Emergency Management Office is responsible for delivering the provincewide 911 emergency reporting service. The full conference agenda is posted on the EMO website at www.gov.ns.ca/emo. Media planning to attend are asked to contact Jodi Sibley at the information below.