From a parking spot not large enough to a bad haircut to late-night vacuuming, E-Comm continued to receive 911 calls in 2019 that are not emergencies.
Since 2013, E-Comm has surveyed its staff for calls that tie up emergency lines and, each year, there’s no shortage of examples of calls they have handled that do not warrant dialling 911.
Equally alarming for the organization this year was an emerging trend, in which some callers concede they are not in an emergency, but have called 91, seeking seeking general information.
“Sometimes, it feels like people may have forgotten that the reason to call 911 is to get help in a life or death situation,” said Chelsea Brent, the call taker who handled the No. 1 call on this year’s list of reasons not to call 911.
“I take a lot of 911 calls where. ‘I know this isn’t an emergency’ are the first words out of the caller’s mouth. 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.”
Some of the general questions received by 911 call takers this year included asking for information about local water restrictions and a caller wondering why traffic was so bad.
Here is E-Comm’s list of top 10 reasons not to call 911 in 2019:
1. To complain that a hotel parking spot was too small.
2. To complain the hair salon didn’t style their hair properly.
3. To complain their neighbour was vacuuming late at night.
4. To complain that the coin laundry machine didn’t have enough water.
5. To enquire as to why traffic was so bad.
6. To request police bring a shovel to dig their car out of the snow in front of their house.
7. To complain that police were being too loud responding to an emergency and asking that officers leave and return in the morning.
8. To get information about water restrictions.
9. To report a broken ATM machine.
10. To complain that gas station staff wouldn’t let them use the washroom.
“Our staff must treat each call as an emergency until they are confident there isn’t one,” said Jasmine Bradley, E-Comm’s 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.”
E-Comm is responsible for 99 per cent of the province’s 911 call volume and handled more than 1.6-million 911 calls in 2019. For more information about E-Comm, go online to ecomm911.ca.