Vancouver, B.C.—In an effort to draw attention to the impact on emergency services, E-Comm—British Columbia’s largest 9-1-1 public-safety answer point—has released a list of its top ten reasons to not call the emergency line.
“Our staff are trained to treat every call that comes through our centre as a valid emergency, until they determine otherwise, no matter what the circumstance,” explains E-Comm spokesperson Jody Robertson. “Even if the reason for the call seems absurd on the surface, 9-1-1 call-takers need to take time to determine exactly what’s going on and whether someone genuinely needs help. Calls about internet access and cold food are a serious drain on emergency resources.”
Throughout the year E-Comm call-takers field calls that don’t belong on the 9-1-1 lines. This year’s top reason not to call 9-1-1? Wi-Fi at a local coffee shop isn’t working.
“We’re here to help people with real emergencies,” says E-Comm 9-1-1 call-taker Warner Yang, recipient of this year’s top nuisance call. “If someone calls 9-1-1 about internet problems that means I’m not available to help someone who really needs it.”
Approximately 2,600 9-1-1 calls per day were placed to E-Comm in 2014 and while Robertson emphasizes that the majority of people use 9-1-1 responsibly, there are too many calls that come through the communications centre that do not meet the test of a true emergency: A police, fire or medical situation that requires immediate action because someone’s health, safety, or property is in jeopardy or a crime is in progress.
“We’re reaching out today to remind the public that 9-1-1 is a life-line, not an information line,” Robertson adds. “We hope our message that 9-1-1 call-takers cannot answer questions about how long power outages will last, when the clocks turn back, or other non-emergency questions, will help reduce these kinds of calls and keep the lines open for real emergencies.”
Top ten reasons to not call 9-1-1:
- Wi-Fi at a local coffee shop isn’t working
- “What’s the fine for jay walking?”
- Pizza not fresh; wants a replacement slice
- “What’s the number for my travel agency?”
- Caller phoned 9-1-1 to ask for a taxi referral
- “Is today a stat holiday?”
- Food they ordered is cold
- Wants help finding lost glasses
- Home Internet is not working
- “What’s the date today?”
E-Comm is the largest 9-1-1 call centre in B.C.,servingMetro Vancouver, the Sunshine Coast, the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, Northern Vancouver Island and Regional Districts in the Northern, Central and Southern Interiors. E-Comm also provides dispatch services to 33 police and fire departments throughout the Lower Mainland, Sunshine Coast and Squamish-Whistler areas, and operates the wide-area radio system used throughout Metro Vancouver by police, fire and ambulance personnel. For tips on using 9-1-1 and more information about E-Comm visit www.ecomm911.ca or follow @EComm911_info.
604-215-4956 or 604-512-3242
Audio from the top 9-1-1 nuisance call of 2014 (Clip of call-taker Warner Yang)