News releases


For Immediate Release – December 30, 2013


9-1-what?! E-Comm announces top-ten most absurd

9-1-1 calls of 2013


Vancouver, B.C.—In an effort to draw attention to the ongoing issue of 9-1-1 nuisance calls, E-Comm—the regional emergency communication centre for southwest B.C.—has released a list of 2013’s most absurd reasons to call the emergency line.

Throughout the year 9-1-1 call-takers submitted examples of calls they received that do not meet the test of an emergency call: A police, fire or medical emergency that requires immediate action because someone’s health, safety, or property is in jeopardy or a crime is in progress.

Although the vast majority of people use 9-1-1 responsibly, there are countless jaw-dropping examples of when it’s “not okay” to call 9-1-1.

“More than 2,500 9-1-1 calls flow through E-Comm every day,” says spokesperson Jody Robertson. “Our teams are dedicated to helping to save lives and protect property. For them, having someone call 9-1-1 to ask for ‘the time of day’ is exasperating.”

E-Comm 9-1-1 call-taker Matthew Collins knows first-hand what it’s like to receive calls like the ones on the top-ten list as he was the recipient of the top 9-1-1-nuisance call of 2013: A request to rent a fire truck for a street party.

“What people don’t realize is that when they call 9-1-1 for information or any other reason that is not an emergency, they’re tying up valuable resources that are meant to be at-the-ready for people who are in serious need of help,” said Collins. 

E-Comm’s top-ten 9-1-1 nuisance calls for 2013:

  1. “I'd like to speak to someone about renting a fire truck to block off a street for a party
  2. A caller phoned 9-1-1 to get their date’s contact information so they could confirm details of their plans.
  3. A caller phoned 9-1-1 to report a missed newspaper delivery.
  4. Caller asks 9-1-1 if they can get the 'OK' to drive in the HOV lane because “traffic is backed up and they are late for an important meeting.”
  5. Caller dials 9-1-1 to activate voicemail on his cellphone.
  6. “I threw my phone into the garbage can and can't get it out.”
  7. Caller dials 9-1-1 to ask for a morning wake-up call.
  8. Caller dials 9-1-1 to ask how to call the operator.
  9. “Can an officer come over to tell my kids to go to bed?”
  10. “My son won’t give me the remote control.”

“Sadly, it was hard to narrow down our list of absurd reasons to call 9-1-1 to just ten,” added Robertson. “We’re reaching out today to remind the public that 9-1-1 is not an information line, it’s a life-line. 9-1-1 call-takers cannot answers questions about power outages, when the clocks turn back or local or international events. Please use both 9-1-1 and the non-emergency lines responsibly.”

E-Comm tweets its “9-1-1 head scratchers” every Friday and the top-ten list was compiled based on Twitter response from followers and input from staff.

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E-Comm answers close to one-million 9-1-1 calls each year for MetroVancouver, theSunshine Coast Regional District, Whistler, Squamish and the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (south and provides dispatch service to 32 police and fire departments. For tips on using 9-1-1 and more information about E-Comm visit www.ecomm911.caor follow @EComm911_info.

More examples of 9-1-1 head scratchers handled by E-Comm staff can be found at #911EmergOnly

Media Contact:
Jody Robertson
E-Comm 9-1-1
604-215-4956 or 604-640-1342 (pager)
jody.robertson@ecomm911.ca