9-1-1 dispatchers warn about non-emergency calls
Chelsea Brent, a worker with E-Comm. Photo from E-Comm 9-1-1.

Whether it was asking about water restrictions or questioning traffic times, some residents of B.C. spent a lot of time this year wasting police time with non-emergency questions. 

E-Comm 9-1-1, the Vancouver-based emergency dispatch room that takes calls from all around the province, recently released its top 10 most ridiculous phone calls of 2019.

They have been making the list since 2013 in an effort to remind people that they shouldn’t call 9-1-1 without a proper reason. 

“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,” explains Chelsea Brent, a call taker who handled the number one call on this year’s list, in a press release from E-Comm.

“I take a lot of 9-1-1 calls where ‘I know this isn’t an emergency’ are the first words out of the caller’s mouth,” Brent writes. “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.”

See also: E-Comm apologizes for long wait times on non-emergency calls on Vancouver Island

Here is the list of E-Comm’s top 10 reasons not to call 9-1-1 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

You can also listen to excerpts from these calls (including a great quote from a dispatcher about taking the SkyTrain) here — 

“Our staff must treat each call as an emergency until they are confident there isn’t one,” says Jasmine Bradley, E-Comm Corporate Communications manager.

“Although these calls may seem absurd at the surface, our call-takers must take the time to investigate each one to make sure there isn’t a real emergency before directing them elsewhere. That takes time away from helping those in crisis.”