The majority of calls that come in to E-Comm 911 call-takers are legitimate emergencies

The majority of calls that come in to E-Comm 911 call-takers are legitimate emergencies

‘My roommate used my toothbrush’ among year’s worst 911 calls

E-Comm issues top 10 list of most inappropriate emergency calls

A basketball up a tree or a coffee shop that won’t refill your cup are not emergencies.

But that didn’t stop hundreds of Lower Mainland residents from inappropriately dialing 911 in 2015 to report similar crises, according to a top 10 list of most outrageous calls released by E-Comm, southwest B.C.’s emergency communications centre.

Other ridiculous calls that had 911 dispatchers scratching their heads were “My roommate used my toothbrush” and “My son won’t put his seatbelt on.”

E-Comm spokesperson Jody Robertson said too many people can’t be bothered to look up the phone number they really need – be that a police non-emergency line or in the case of the top bozo call of 2015, the number for a local tire dealership.

Robertson said such calls come in “every single day” and take up the time of 911 call takers, creating the potential for delays in responding to real life-and-death emergencies.

“When I see a call come in to 911 where someone says ‘This isn’t an emergency, what’s the non-emergency number?’ it says to me somebody knows what their situation is and it’s perplexing that they’d dial 911,” she said. “Just using the internet to do a quick search would be really beneficial.”

Calls that should instead go to a police non-emergency line include cases where shoppers come out of a mall to find their car broken into hours earlier with no suspect in sight.

A true emergency is 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.

“The calls on our top 10 list don’t belong on our non-emergency line or the emergency line either.”

Nor can E-Comm staff instantly disconnect calls that initially appear to be trivial. Call takers have to be alert to scenarios where a caller feels threatened by someone in earshot and is speaking in code or otherwise concocting a story to hide the fact they’ve dialed 911.

“We are trained to ask questions in case a caller is in distress and can’t speak freely,” E-Comm call taker Harrison Kwan said. “It’s only when I’m completely satisfied that the call is not a real emergency that I can disconnect and go back to answering other 911 calls. And that takes time.”

E-Comm’s top 10 reasons not to call 911 for 2015:

  1. Requesting the number for a local tire dealership
  2. Reporting an issue with a vending machine
  3. Asking for the non-emergency line
  4. Because a car parked too close to theirs
  5. “My son won’t put his seatbelt on”
  6. Coffee shop is refusing to refill coffee
  7. Asking if it’s okay to park on the street
  8. “My roommate used my toothbrush”
  9. Asking for help getting a basketball out of a tree
  10. Reporting that their building’s air system is too loud and they can’t sleep

Just Posted

Jacqueline Pearce and Jean-Pierre Antonio received the BC Historical Federation Best Article Award on Saturday for their story about translating haiku written in the Tashme internment camp.
Article chronicling haiku in Japanese internment camp near Hope wins award

Tashme Haiku Club’s work was preserved and recently translated, authors write

FVRD surveyed public opinion on cannabis production and processing in the electoral areas. Odour and distance from residential areas were the top concerns. (Black Press file)
Cannabis production and processing rules being drafted by Fraser Valley Regional District

Data from public opinion survey will be used to guide cannabis-related land use

Robert Nelson, 35, died after being stabbed at a homeless camp in Abbotsford on April 7 of this year.
Mom pleads for information about son’s killing at Abbotsford homeless camp

Robert Nelson, 35, described as ‘man who stood for justice, honour, respect’

Police arrest the suspect in an attempted armed bank robbery on June 2 at the Scotiabank at Gladwin Road and South Fraser Way in Abbotsford. (Photo by Garry Amyot)
Abbotsford bank robbery suspect who was stopped by customers faces more charges

Neil Simpson now faces total of eight charges, up from the initial two

Kindergarten kids from Evans elementary school in Chilliwack painted rocks with orange hearts and delivered them to Sto:lo Elders Lodge recently after learning about residential schools. (Laura Bridge photo)
Kindergarten class paints rocks with orange hearts in Chilliwack for local elders

‘Compassion and empathy’ being shown by kids learning about residential schools

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials watching U.K.’s Delta variant struggles, ‘may need to slow’ plan going forward

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Calgary Stampeders’ Jerome Messam leaps over a tackle during second half CFL western semifinal football action in Calgary, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CFL football will be played this summer in Canada

Governors vote unanimously in favour to start the ‘21 campaign on Aug. 5

Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. The federal government is announcing that Indigenous people can now apply to reclaim their names on passports and other government documents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous people can now reclaim traditional names on their passports and other ID

Announcement applies to all individuals of First Nations, Inuit and Métis background

Most Read