One-in-five 911 calls are ‘non-emergencies’: E-Comm

New campaign urges callers to keep 911 clear for those with real emergencies

One-in-five 911 calls for police aren’t actually an emergency, according to new estimates by E-Comm.

According to the emergency communications centre, which serves most of B.C., call-takers received 387,000 calls in Metro Vancouver last year. Of those calls, about 77,000 were non-emergencies – a stat that has continued into 2017.

Last week, out of the 9,000 police calls received 1,800 were non-emergency calls, said Jasmine Bradley, E-Comm’s manager of corporate communications.

In response to the 20 per cent of non-emergency calls, the communications centre has launched a new campaign urging B.C. residents to consider how they may be letting non-emergency calls get in the way of real ones.

While some calls are so ridiculous they make the communication centre’s annual top 10 worst list – like a person in 2016 who called 911 because their gym locker was “broken” – others may be less obvious to some.

Jefferey Chin, who’s been a call-taker with the service for three years, told Black Press he receives non-emergency calls almost every shift.

READ MORE: New paramedic to help make sure unusual symptoms get the right response

READ MORE: Stuck gym lockers, job queries top 2016 list of reasons to not call 911

“Before we ask a 911 caller to hang-up and call their local non-emergency number, we have to take time to assess whether the situation is an actual emergency,” he said.

In one instance, he received a call from someone whose vehicle had been broken into three days earlier.

“My caller certainly needed to report that break-in to police, but the non-emergency line is a better choice so that if someone calls 911 for a true emergency, they get through as soon as possible.”

So what is the difference between an incident for 911 and one for the non-emergency number?

“Non-emergencies are still police matters, but they don’t require an immediate response from police, fire or ambulance,” Bradley said.

Situations still in progress, an incident that results in injury or when a suspect is still on scene are examples of when 911 should be called.

Recent examples of police matters that were better suited for the regional non-emergency line, Bradley said, include:

  • Vehicle break-in that happened three days earlier
  • Motor vehicle crash with no injuries and the vehicle was driveable
  • A break-in that occurred 90 minutes earlier, with no suspect on scene and no one at risk

Still, if someone is in doubt about how dire their emergency or situation is, it’s better to call 911, Bradley said.

“We appreciate that sometimes it can be difficult, to know if the situation is emergency or non-emergency.”

To find out what your local non-emergency number is, click here.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

COVID-19 means different graduations for Cowichan students in 2020

At Lake Cowichan students did the traditional hat toss

Mary Lowther column: Pre-sprouting corn in paper towels

My new packet of spinach didn’t grow when I put the seeds directly into potting soil

Sarah Simpson Column: Diving into Dahl with my darlings

“Why don’t we pull out the Roald Dahl collection we got a couple years ago?”

Renovated Lake Cowichan town hall will include emergency operations centre

Upgrade project expected to be complete within months

VIDEO: Musqueam Chief captures captivating footage of bald eagle catching meal

‘This is why we have chosen to live here since time immemorial,’ Chief Wayne Sparrow’s nephew says

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Liberal party finished 2019 having spent $43 million, raised $42 million

All political parties had until midnight June 30 to submit their financial reports for last year

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

Most Read