Bad haircut and a small parking spot: Top 10 worst 911 calls of the year in B.C.

Bad haircut and a small parking spot: Top 10 worst 911 calls of the year in B.C.
Dan Taekema/CBC
E-Comm officials are urging people to think twice before tying up emergency lines.

E-Comm has once again released a list of reasons not to call 911 and this year, a small parking spot claimed number one.

Since 2013, E-Comm has surveyed its call-taking staff each year for calls that tie up emergency lines.

“Each year, there’s no shortage of examples of calls they have handled that do not warrant a call to 911,” E-Comm said in a release.

According to E-Comm, there was also an emerging trend this year, where some callers know they aren’t in an emergency, but call 911 anyway seeking general information.

“Sometimes, it feels like people may have forgotten that the reason to call 911 is to get help in a life or death situation,” Chelsea Brent, the call taker who handled the number one call on this year’s list, said in a statement.

“I take a lot of 911 calls where ‘I know this isn’t an emergency’ are the first words out of the caller’s mouth. But when I’m answering calls that aren’t an emergency, it means I’m not available for someone else who really does need critical help.”

Here is E-Comm’s list of top 10 reasons not to call 911 in 2019: 

  1. To complain hotel parking spot was too small
  2. To complain hair salon didn’t style their hair properly
  3. To complain their neighbour was vacuuming late at night
  4. Because they were upset the coin laundry machine didn’t have enough water
  5. To enquire why traffic was so bad
  6. To request police bring a shovel to dig their car out of the snow in front of their house
  7. Because police are being ‘too loud’ responding to an emergency and requesting that they should come back in the morning
  8. To get information about water restrictions
  9. To report a broken ATM machine
  10. Because a gas station wouldn’t let them use the washroom

“Our staff must treat each call as an emergency until they are confident there isn’t one,” Jasmine Bradley, E-Comm Corporate Communications manager, said in a statement.

“Although these calls may seem absurd at the surface, our call-takers must take the time to investigate each one to make sure there isn’t a real emergency before directing them elsewhere. That takes time away from helping those in crisis.”

E-Comm recommends checking with municipalities or DriveBC for general questions about issues like water restrictions or traffic.

E-Comm is the first point of contact for 911 callers in 25 regional districts in British Columbia, handling approximately 1.6 million 911 calls a year (99 per cent of B.C.’s 911 call volume). E-Comm also provides dispatch services for police and fire departments and operates the largest multi‐jurisdictional, tri‐service wide‐area radio network in the province used by police, fire and ambulance personnel throughout Metro Vancouver and parts of the Fraser Valley.

Listen to a sample of the 911 nuisance calls here. 


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