B.C.’s 911 emergency dispatch centre releases top 10 nuisance calls of 2020

B.C.’s 911 emergency dispatch centre releases top 10 nuisance calls of 2020
Photo courtesy CBC
The dispatcher that handles most of BC's 911 calls says COVID-19 gave a different twist to some calls this year, but E-Comm's annual list of nuisance callers reveals little change elsewhere.

The dispatcher that handles most of British Columbia’s 911 calls says COVID-19 gave a different twist to some calls this year, but E-Comm’s annual list of nuisance callers reveals little change elsewhere.

In an effort to remind the public that 911 should only be dialled in an emergency, E-Comm has released its list of the top ten nuisance calls of 2020.

E-Comm says that in a unique year amid a global pandemic, the top ten list of nuisance calls features some “familiar consumer complaints,” as well as some new 2020-specific inquiries.

The dispatcher says inquiries such as a complaint about missing food deliveries or inquiring about a possible COVID-19 lockdown probably wouldn’t have made previous nuisance lists.

Even the third-ranked question about the legality of trampolines during COVID-19 would have been inconceivable one year ago.

But E-Comm officials say those calls and others about a stuck banking card, smoking in restricted areas or inquiries about the time are all inappropriate because they don’t involve immediate risk to life or property.

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

“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.”

Below are E-Comm’s top 10 nuisance calls that the centre received 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

“What people may not realize is that we need to treat every call as an emergency until we can determine otherwise,” added McMath.

“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.”

E-Comm has handled more than 1.7 million 911 calls to its two centres on Vancouver Island and in East Vancouver this year.

The organization is the first point of contact for 911 callers in 25 regional districts in B.C. and provides dispatch services for more than 70 police agencies and fire departments across the province.

With files to Canadian Press

Graham CoxGraham Cox

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