Emergency call volumes will not be cooling down as B.C. temperatures rise
Vancouver, B.C.—E-Comm is managing extraordinary 9-1-1 call volumes this year, with the volume of requests for emergency services already exceeding those of the heat dome in 2021. The emergency communications centre is expecting an exceptionally busy summer and is urging British Columbians to help protect its critical 9-1-1 resources by using the system responsibly.
E-Comm has seen a 21 per cent increase in 9-1-1 calls in the first five months of 2023, relative to the same period last year, with May marking the busiest month in E-Comm’s history. There were 39 per cent more calls to 9-1-1 in May 2023, compared to May 2022, and the company is forecasting high call volumes throughout the summer.
Extreme heat and wildfires have historically impacted 9-1-1 call volumes, and the return of pre-COVID activities including tourism, social gatherings and events are also likely contributors to the increased demand for emergency services. An April update to the Android operating system has also contributed to a global increase in auto-dialed false 9-1-1 calls, a problem which cellular phone manufacturers are working to address in a new update to be downloaded to phones throughout June.
“We have never seen 9-1-1 call volumes this high,” says Oliver Grüter-Andrew, President & CEO of E-Comm. “Despite increasing demands for emergency services, we have continued to meet our service level targets for emergency response this year, thanks to the heroic efforts of our staff who work tirelessly around the clock to keep our communities safe. We have implemented a number of improvements that have helped prepare us for the busy summer ahead, but we still need British Columbians’ help to keep 9-1-1 lines free for emergencies only.”
In light of the record-breaking number of calls to 9-1-1, E-Comm is sharing its top tips for protecting emergency resources.
Tips to protect 9-1-1
- Only call 9-1-1 when immediate emergency assistance is required from police, fire or ambulance. Visit ecomm911.ca for specific examples of when to call.
- Know your location in case you need to call 9-1-1. An exact address is always best, but your city, cross streets and major landmarks will also help us find you faster.
- Carry your phone carefully to prevent pocket dials to 9-1-1, and know your phone’s safety functions – many phones have automatic 9-1-1 call-dial features including “fall detection” and Emergency SOS that result in false calls. If you do call us by accident, do NOT hang up. Please stay on the line so we can ensure you are safe.
E-Comm is the first point of contact for 9-1-1 callers in 25 regional districts in British Columbia and provides dispatch services for more than 70 police agencies and fire departments across the province. E‐Comm also owns and operates the largest multi‐jurisdictional, tri‐service, wide‐area radio network in the province used by police, fire and ambulance personnel throughout Metro Vancouver and parts of the Fraser Valley.