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.

Just Posted

Affordable housing idea dead for Central Park, idea shifts to Royal Athletic Park lot

Underground parking with housing units above to be considered for existing lot

Victoria airport workers rally on Tuesday

Food service workers call for improved working conditions

BC Nurses Union calls for decriminalization of opioids

BCNU president wants the federal government to do more to reduce preventable deaths

VIDEO: Trudeau shuffles familiar faces, adds new ones to expanded cabinet

Justin Trudeau shuffles his front bench Wednesday to install the roster of ministers that will be entrusted with leading the Liberal team into next year’s election.

One year later: Still no suspects in killing of 13-year-old B.C. girl

Marrisa Shen was killed in Burnaby’s Central Park on July 18, 2017

Cougar shot by police in Nanaimo

Shooting occurred in water at Nanaimo Yacht Club at about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday

BC Games opening ceremonies promise to be magical

Features Shane Koyczan and his band, Asani, parade of athletes, and lots more

VIDEO: Toronto Raptors send DeMar DeRozan to Spurs in colossal NBA trade

Toronto also sent Jakob Poeltl and 2019 first-round pick, gets Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green

More lightning forecast as storm sparks 38 new wildfires in B.C.

22 new fires in are burning in the Kamloops Fire Centre according to the BC Wildfire Service.

Banff’s bathroom bears returned to the park after 15 months of rehab in Ontario

Black bears, now yearlings, were sent to the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Ontario last April

‘Recovery high schools,’ per diems urged to better manage addiction in B.C.

BC Centre for Substance Use says focus needs to shift to from overdose prevention to long-term care

Most Read