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'My roommate used my toothbrush' and other reasons to not call 9-1-1

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December 29, 2015 - 2:30 PM

THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - The largest 9-1-1 call centre in B.C. has released its top ten worst reasons people used their service this year.

E-Comm is the primary 9-1-1 answer point for 24 regional districts and other communities from Vancouver Island to the Alberta and U.S. borders, to north of Prince George.

With nearly 3,400 9-1-1 calls every day, E-Comm answers a lot of emergencies, and a lot of non-emergencies as well. Some of the non-emergencies are a complete waste of resources, including those that made the top-ten list this year.

2015 top ten reasons to not call 9-1-1:

1. Requesting the number for a local tire dealership
2. Reporting an issue with a vending machine
3. Asking for the non-emergency line
4. Because a car parked too close to theirs
5. "My son won’t put his seatbelt on"
6. Coffee shop is refusing to refill coffee
7. Asking if it’s okay to park on the street
8. “My roommate used my toothbrush”
9. Asking for help getting a basketball out of a tree
10. Reporting that their building’s air system is too loud and they can’t sleep

Jody Robertson, E-Comm’s director of corporate communications, says while the majority of people use 9-1-1 responsibly, calls like the ones on this year’s top-ten list waste valuable emergency resources.

“We want to remind people about what’s at risk when 9-1-1 is used as an information line or for other reasons that do not meet the test of a true emergency: A police, fire or medical situation that requires immediate action because someone’s health, safety, or property is in jeopardy or a crime is in progress,” Robertson says. “We hope that our message that 9-1-1 call-takers can’t answer questions or manage non-emergency situations on 9-1-1 lifelines will encourage people to learn more about 9-1-1."

Emergency call-taker Harrison Kwan, the recipient of this year’s top nuisance call, says it’s his job to treat every call as an emergency, no matter how illogical it may seem on the surface.

“We are trained to ask questions in case a caller is in distress and can’t speak freely. It’s only when I’m completely satisfied that the call is not a real emergency that I can disconnect and go back to answering other 9-1-1 calls. And that takes time.” 

For more information on what constitutes an emergency, visit the E-Comm website.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw at or call 250-718-0428. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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