The North Island 9-1-1 Corporation has launched an education campaign it hopes will reduce accidental emergency calls to dispatchers. — Black Press file photo

North Vancouver Island 911 seeks to reduce accidental calls

Corporation launches education campaign for Mid, North Island residents

The North Island 9-1-1 Corporation is seeking the public’s help in reducing accidental emergency calls through a public education campaign announced Tuesday, May 15, throughout the Mid- and North Island.

The North Island 9-1-1 Corporation covers the area of Vancouver Island from Parksville Qualicum Beach north to Port Hardy, including Port Alberni and Powell River.

“Every year, almost 2,000 accidental 9-1-1 calls occur within our community,” said Joe Stanhope, North Island 9-1-1 Regional District of Nanaimo board member. “What residents might not be aware of is that there are a few simple tips to help reduce these calls to ensure time is spent on real emergencies.”

Every time 9-1-1 is accidently called from a landline, operators are required to call back these dropped calls to determine whether they are real emergencies, Jennifer Steel, manager of corporate communications for the Comox Valley Regional District, said in a written release. If the operator can’t contact anyone, a police officer can be dispatched to physically verify. Cellphones and Voice over Internet phones further complicate the process because, unlike with landlines, they provide only general location information to the call-taker, so tracking down callers to confirm it was an accidental call is a challenge.

North Island 9-1-1 is asking residents to:

• Protect their cell phones by locking them and storing them carefully;

• Never give phones to children to play with or use as toys;

• Ensure 9-1-1 is not pre-programmed into mobile or landline phones; and

• Finally, if you happen to accidentally call 9-1-1 please stay on the line to ensure the operator is aware there is no emergency.

The North Island 9-1-1 Corporation was established in 1995 to provide and manage emergency 9-1-1 services to the Comox Valley Regional District, the Strathcona Regional District, the Regional Districts of Mount Waddington and Alberni-Clayoquot and a portion (School District No. 69) of the Nanaimo Regional District. In 1999, Powell River Regional District joined the service (excluding Lasqueti Island).

For more simple tips and to learn more about accidental calls, please visit www.ni911.ca/education.

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