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Top 10 most absurd 9-1-1 calls of 2013

In an effort to draw attention to the ongoing issue of 9-1-1 nuisance calls, E-Comm – the regional emergency communication centre for southwest B.C. — has released a list of 2013’s most absurd reasons to call the emergency line.

Throughout the year 9-1-1 call-takers submitted examples of calls they received that do not meet the test of an emergency call: A police, fire or medical emergency that requires immediate action because someone’s health, safety, or property is in jeopardy or a crime is in progress.

Although the vast majority of people use 9-1-1 responsibly, there are countless jaw-dropping examples of when it’s “not okay” to call 9-1-1.

“More than 2,500 9-1-1 calls flow through E-Comm every day,” says spokesperson Jody Robertson. “Our teams are dedicated to helping to save lives and protect property.

“For them, having someone call 9-1-1 to ask for ‘the time of day’ is exasperating.”

E-Comm 9-1-1 call-taker Matthew Collins knows firsthand what it’s like to receive calls like the ones on the top-ten list as he was the recipient of the top 9-1-1-nuisance call of 2013: A request to rent a fire truck for a street party.

“What people don’t realize is that when they call 9-1-1 for information or any other reason that is not an emergency, they’re tying up valuable resources that are meant to be at-the-ready for people who are in serious need of help,” said Collins.

E-Comm’s top-ten 9-1-1 nuisance calls for 2013:

  • “I’d like to speak to someone about renting a fire truck to block off a street for a party
  • A caller phoned 9-1-1 to get their date’s contact information so they could confirm details of their plans.
  • A caller phoned 9-1-1 to report a missed newspaper delivery.
  • Caller asks 9-1-1 if they can get the ‘OK’ to drive in the HOV lane because “traffic is backed up and they are late for an important meeting.”
  • Caller dials 9-1-1 to activate voicemail on his cellphone.
  • “I threw my phone into the garbage can and can’t get it out.”
  • Caller dials 9-1-1 to ask for a morning wake-up call.
  • Caller dials 9-1-1 to ask how to call the operator.
  • “Can an officer come over to tell my kids to go to bed?”
  • n “My son won’t give me the remote control.”

“Sadly, it was hard to narrow down our list of absurd reasons to call 9-1-1 to just ten,” added Robertson. “We’re reaching out today to remind the public that 9-1-1 is not an information line, it’s a life-line. 9-1-1 call-takers cannot answers questions about power outages, when the clocks turn back or local or international events. Please use both 9-1-1 and the non-emergency lines responsibly.”

E-Comm tweets its “9-1-1 head scratchers” every Friday and the top-ten list was compiled based on Twitter response from followers and input from staff.

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