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E-Comm releases list of worst 9-1-1 calls of 2014

By Contributor
December 30th, 2014

Wi-Fi at a local coffee shop isn’t working?

That may be a problem, but please do not make a 9-1-1 call in an effort to report the malfunction.

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:

  1. Wi-Fi at a local coffee shop isn’t working
  2. “What’s the fine for jay walking?”
  3. Pizza not fresh; wants a replacement slice
  4. “What’s the number for my travel agency?”
  5. Caller phoned 9-1-1 to ask for a taxi referral
  6. “Is today a stat holiday?”
  7. Food they ordered is cold
  8. Wants help finding lost glasses
  9. Home Internet is not working
  10. “What’s the date today?”

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