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Top ten reasons not to call 911 in B.C.

FILE PHOTO - A call taker at E-Comm’s Lower Mainland emergency communications centre is pictured in this undated file photo. Whether you’re fed up with your food delivery, curious about COVID or have questions about the quarantine, 911 is not the right number to call. E-Comm, which handles 99% of B.C.’s 9-1-1 calls at its two emergency communications centres, has released its annual top 10 list of calls that don’t belong on 911.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / E-Comm
December 30, 2020 - 10:00 AM

Whether you’re fed up with your food delivery, curious about COVID or have questions about the quarantine, 911 is not the right number to call.

E-Comm, which handles 99% of B.C.’s 911 calls at its two emergency communications centres, has released its annual top 10 list of calls that don’t belong on 911.

It is reminding people every time someone calls 911 with a non-urgent concern, they are putting the lives of other British Columbians at risk, according to an E-Comm press release.

In addition to the increase of pandemic-related enquiries that tied up 911 lines in 2020, E-Comm employees also dealt with familiar consumer complaints that wind up on the company's 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.

“Calling 911 to ask a question or report a consumer complaint may seem harmless enough, 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,” said E-Comm call taker Megan McMath, in the press release.

Here is E-Comm’s list of top 10 reasons not to call 911 in 2020:

1. Complaining that their food delivery driver did not deliver their meal
2. Enquiring if there is a full lockdown for COVID-19
3. Wondering if having a trampoline is illegal during COVID-19
4. Asking for assistance to apply for CERB
5. Complaining that the mattress they had purchased second hand was more soiled than advertised
6. Reporting that their bank card was stuck in the ATM
7. Reporting their neighbour for smoking in a non-smoking building
8. Enquiring about how to enter a career in law enforcement
9. Confirming the time
10. 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 911,” said Kaila Butler, E-Comm senior communications specialist, in the press release. “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 911 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 911 to report concerns about public health violations and encouraging British Columbians to refer to other 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.
• If you feel that you might have COVID-19, please call ahead to your primary care provider’s office or 811 to assess whether you need testing.
• For non-medical information about COVID-19, call 1-888-COVID-19 or visit the B.C. Centre for Disease Control's website.

E-Comm has handled more than 1.7 million 911 calls so far in 2020.

For more information about E-Comm, visit the company's website here.


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