You would think knowing when to call 911 would be common sense.
You would be wrong. That’s at least according to E-Comm’s annual top-10 list of nuisance calls to the 911 emergency number.
From a small parking spot to a bad haircut to late-night vacuuming, some people called 911 for the wrong reasons.
E-Comm surveys its call-taking staff annually for calls that clog emergency lines.
“Sometimes, it feels like people may have forgotten that the reason to call 9-1-1 is to get help in a life or death situation,” said Chelsea Brent, the call taker who handled the number-one call on this year’s list. “I take a lot of 911 calls where ‘I know this isn’t an emergency’ are the first words out of the caller’s mouth. But when I’m answering calls that aren’t an emergency, it means I’m not available for someone else who really does need critical help.”
Some of the general questions received by 911 call takers this year included asking for information about local water restrictions and a caller wondering why traffic was so bad. Checking with municipalities or DriveBC is the right source for these questions, not 911 or police non-emergency lines.
Here is E-Comm’s list of top 10 reasons not to call 911 in 2019:
- To complain hotel parking spot was too small
- To complain hair salon didn’t style their hair properly
- To complain their neighbour was vacuuming late at night
- Because they were upset the coin laundry machine didn’t have enough water
- To enquire why traffic was so bad
- To request police bring a shovel to dig their car out of the snow in front of their house
- Because police are being ‘too loud’ responding to an emergency and requesting that they should come back in the morning
- To get information about water restrictions
- To report a broken ATM machine
- Because a gas station wouldn’t let them use the washroom.
E-Comm is responsible for 99 per cent of the province’s 911 call volume and handled more than 1.6 million 9-1-1 calls in 2019.