Emergency dispatchers serve an important purpose here in B.C. They direct police, fire and medical services to people in need, often at the worst times in their lives.
But in 2020, a few people got confused as when to call E-Comm 911, which operates emergency dispatch centres in B.C., and when to leave the phone alone.
And that error can have serious consequences.
“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 9-1-1 lines free for people experiencing real emergencies who need immediate assistance from police, fire or ambulance agencies,” said Kaila Butler, E-Comm senior communications specialist.
Here are the top worst 911 calls of 2020, and who you should call instead:
Complaining that their food delivery driver did not deliver their meal
Aside from Amazon, no one benefitted from lockdowns more than food delivery services. And while your takeout burger might be the highlight of your day when everything else is closed, it’s not an emergency. Instead, try the restaurant or your delivery person. But remember: be nice.
Enquiring if there is a full lockdown for COVID-19
Speaking of lockdowns, it’s been a roller coaster ride this year. What’s open, what’s closed, what’s allowed and what will net you a $230 ticket has been a source of confusion over the past few months. Luckily, it’s all compiled on the B.C. government’s website.
Wondering if having a trampoline is illegal during COVID-19
We can answer this one: As long as you don’t throw a party, you’re free to bounce the day away.
Asking for assistance to apply for CERB
The rollout of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit was a mixed bag. For many who lost their jobs to the pandemic, it was a lifeline. But it was confusing. While CERB ended in the fall, you can read all about the new benefits here.
Complaining that the mattress they had purchased second hand was more soiled than advertised
It’s oft-repeated advice that you shouldn’t buy mattresses second hand, but if you’re concerned you should probably contact the seller.
Reporting that their bank card was stuck in the ATM
This is one for your bank, not 911. Call their customer service and see if you can put a freeze on your debit card in lieu of calling emergency dispatch.
Reporting their neighbour for smoking in a non-smoking building
If it’s a municipal rule, try your local bylaw officers. If not, the people to call are your landlord or your building’ management.
Enquiring about how to enter a career in law enforcement
Try “[city name] police careers” in Google.
Confirming the time
So many options: your watch, your cellphone, your laptop, your car radio, even your microwave.
Asking for help because they were locked out of their car
Any towing services, BCAA or your local locksmith would be happy to help you.
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