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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

HISTORY COLUMN: Reflecting on the 32nd anniversary of Canada’s apology to Japanese-Canadians

Japanese-Canadians an integral part of Tofino and Ucluelet’s history.

Tofino-Ucluelet region rallies around injured five-month-old puppy

A Hitacu puppy is home and healing after being struck by a vehicle in Hitacu

Storm season expected to arrive in Tofino-Ucluelet on Tuesday

Environment Canada has issued a storm warning for the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

Ucluelet chamber of commerce searching for new executive director

“Lara did a phenomenal job and we will really miss her.”

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

‘Unprecedented’ coalition demands end to B.C. salmon farms

First Nations, commercial fishermen among group calling for action on Cohen recommendations

Earthquake off coast of Washington recorded at 4.1 magnitude

The quake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometres

B.C.’s top doctor says she’s received abuse, death threats during COVID-19 response

Henry has become a national figure during her time leading B.C.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Vancouver Island sailor stranded in U.S. hospital after suffering massive stroke at sea

Oak Bay man was attempting to circumnavigate the world solo

Most Read