The majority of calls that come in to E-Comm 911 call-takers are legitimate emergencies

‘My roommate used my toothbrush’ among year’s worst 911 calls

E-Comm issues top 10 list of most inappropriate emergency calls

A basketball up a tree or a coffee shop that won’t refill your cup are not emergencies.

But that didn’t stop hundreds of Lower Mainland residents from inappropriately dialing 911 in 2015 to report similar crises, according to a top 10 list of most outrageous calls released by E-Comm, southwest B.C.’s emergency communications centre.

Other ridiculous calls that had 911 dispatchers scratching their heads were “My roommate used my toothbrush” and “My son won’t put his seatbelt on.”

E-Comm spokesperson Jody Robertson said too many people can’t be bothered to look up the phone number they really need – be that a police non-emergency line or in the case of the top bozo call of 2015, the number for a local tire dealership.

Robertson said such calls come in “every single day” and take up the time of 911 call takers, creating the potential for delays in responding to real life-and-death emergencies.

“When I see a call come in to 911 where someone says ‘This isn’t an emergency, what’s the non-emergency number?’ it says to me somebody knows what their situation is and it’s perplexing that they’d dial 911,” she said. “Just using the internet to do a quick search would be really beneficial.”

Calls that should instead go to a police non-emergency line include cases where shoppers come out of a mall to find their car broken into hours earlier with no suspect in sight.

A true emergency is 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.

“The calls on our top 10 list don’t belong on our non-emergency line or the emergency line either.”

Nor can E-Comm staff instantly disconnect calls that initially appear to be trivial. Call takers have to be alert to scenarios where a caller feels threatened by someone in earshot and is speaking in code or otherwise concocting a story to hide the fact they’ve dialed 911.

“We are trained to ask questions in case a caller is in distress and can’t speak freely,” E-Comm call taker Harrison Kwan said. “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 911 calls. And that takes time.”

E-Comm’s top 10 reasons not to call 911 for 2015:

  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

Just Posted

Maple Ridge second lowest for number of ODs

Coroner’s stats in for third quarter of the year

Flames lose at home, win in Mission

Host Kodiaks on Friday night

Weavers and spinners to kick off holiday shopping

The Whonnock Weavers and Spinners’ 38th annual exhibit and sale takes place Nov. 25

Strong support for Pitt Meadows transportation projects

Overpass/underpass projects get majority support

Police aim to prevent retaliation after Hells Angel found dead in Maple Ridge

IHIT confirms Chad Wilson, 43, was the victim of a ‘targeted’ homicide

UPDATE: IHIT confirms identity of Hells Angels homicide victim

Chad John Wilson was one of four men arrested in Spain in 2013 on allegations of smuggling cocaine.

Former NHL player and coach Dan Maloney dies at 68

Maloney coached the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets

Ex-MSU president charged with lying to police about Nassar

Lou Anna Simon was charged Tuesday with lying to police during an investigation

Otter makes a snack out of koi fish in Vancouver Chinese garden

Staff say the otter has eaten at least five fish

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

B.C. lumber mills struggle with shortage of logs, price slump

Signs of recovery after U.S. market swings, industry executive says

25% of Canadians still won’t say they use pot, survey says

Statistics Canada poll says Canadians on average were 18.9 years old when they first tried pot.

Canucks’ 50/50 jackpot expected to surpass $1 million

The guaranteed prize for one lucky winner will be $500,000 minimum when Vancouver hosts LA Nov 27

The latest advent calendar trend: Holiday cannabis

A Canadian company is giving people from coast to coast a new way to celebrate the Christmas countdown.

Most Read