By The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — The agency that handles almost every call to police, fire or ambulance in British Columbia has released its annual top-10 list of bad reasons to dial 911.
The list from E-Comm is lighthearted, but officials say it also highlights an alarming trend where some callers know they aren’t facing an emergency and choose to call 911 anyway.
Emergency call taker Chelsea Brent says she handles many requests where the first words from the caller are “I know this isn’t an emergency.”
Brent took the call that tops E-Comm’s 2019 list; a complaint that a hotel parking spot was too small.
The second most egregious nuisance call was from a person upset about their hair style after visiting a beauty salon.
Other improper calls include concerns about late-night vacuuming, an order that police dig a car out of deep snow, a request for details about water restrictions and a caller demanding that loud officers dealing with a separate emergency should instead return in the morning.
Brent says she feels that some have forgotten 911 should only be used in life-or-death situations.
“When I’m answering calls that aren’t an emergency, it means I’m not available for someone else who really does need critical help.”
Jasmine Bradley, E-Comm corporate communications manager, says the top-10 calls may seem absurd on the surface but each must be investigated, and the person directed elsewhere.
“That takes time away from helping those in crisis,” she says.
E-Comm is responsible for 99 per cent of the province’s 911 call volume and handled more than 1.6 million calls this year.