Silly phone calls to the emergency services operators at E-Comm, located in an earthquake-resistant fortress by the PNE in East Vancouver, clog up the phone lines for real, urgent matters.
“We want to remind people about what’s at risk when 9-1-1 is used as an information line or for other reasons 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,” said Jody Robertson, E-Comm’s director of corporate communications, in a statement.
The public agency takes in approximately 3,400 9-1-1 calls daily from Metro Vancouver and other regions across B.C. While most of the calls are made responsibly, there are some that use up valuable resources by taking up the time of operators.
“My job is to treat every call as an emergency, no matter how illogical it may seem on the surface,” said E-Comm 9-1-1 call-taker Harrison Kwan, who was the recipient of this year’s top nuisance call: “Requesting the number for a local tire dealership.”
“We are trained to ask questions in case a caller is in distress and can’t speak freely,” Kwan added. “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 9-1-1 calls. And that takes time.”
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