WHETHER you’re fed up with your food delivery, curious about COVID or have questions about quarantine, 9-1-1 is not the right number to call.
E-Comm, which handles 99 per cent of B.C.’s 9-1-1 call volume at its two emergency communications centres, has released its annual top 10 list of calls that don’t belong on 9-1-1, reminding people that every time someone calls 9-1-1 with a non-urgent concern, they are putting the lives of other British Columbians at risk.
In addition to the increase of pandemic-related enquiries that tied up 9-1-1 lines in 2020, E-Comm call takers also dealt with some familiar consumer complaints that seem to wind up on its top 10 nuisance calls list year after year including cars that can’t start, bank cards that are stuck in ATMs and callers wondering about the time.
E-Comm call taker Megan McMath answered the number one call on this year’s list. She says general complaints on the emergency line that aren’t police, fire or ambulance matters, divert critical resources from people in real emergencies.
“Calling 9-1-1 to ask a question or report a consumer complaint may seem harmless enough,” says McMath. “But, what people may not realize is that we need to treat every call as an emergency, until we can determine otherwise. That means that every moment we spend responding to general questions, concerns or complaints takes away from our priority – helping people who need help right away.”
Here is E-Comm’s list of top 10 reasons not to call 9-1-1 in 2020:
- Complaining that their food delivery driver did not deliver their meal
- Enquiring if there is a full lockdown for COVID-19
- Wondering if having a trampoline is illegal during COVID-19
- Asking for assistance to apply for Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
- Complaining that the mattress they had purchased second hand was more soiled than advertised
- Reporting that their bank card was stuck in the ATM
- Reporting their neighbour for smoking in a non-smoking building
- Enquiring about how to enter a career in law enforcement
- Confirming the time
- Asking for help because they were locked out of their car
“We understand that people are frustrated and worried about COVID-19-related issues, but general questions and complaints about the pandemic don’t belong on 9-1-1,” says Kaila Butler, E-Comm senior communications specialist. “Our goal each year with this list of nuisance calls is to drive home the message that we need the public’s help to keep 9-1-1 lines free for people experiencing real emergencies who need immediate assistance from police, fire or ambulance agencies.”
E-Comm is asking the public not to call 9-1-1 to report concerns about public health violations and encouraging British Columbians to refer to the wide range of resources available for COVID-19 instead.
- To report public health violations, contact your local by-law office or call your local police non-emergency line
- In Vancouver, call 3-1-1 or report your concern online
- If you feel that you might have COVID-19, call ahead to your primary care provider’s office or 8-1-1 to assess whether you need testing
- For non-medical information about COVID-19, call 1-888-COVID-19 or visit bccdc.ca
E-Comm has handled more than 1.7 million 9-1-1 calls so far in 2020. For more information about E-Comm, visit ecomm911.ca.