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Bozo 911 calls show no signs of abating

E-Comm call takers say they receive far too many ridiculous 911 calls that are clearly not emergencies. - File photo
E-Comm call takers say they receive far too many ridiculous 911 calls that are clearly not emergencies.
— image credit: File photo

Do not dial 911 to ask for a morning wake-up call.

Or to discipline your children. Or to ask permission to use the HOV lane to get to an important meeting.

Those are a few fresh examples of jaw-droppingly inappropriate 911 calls made by Lower Mainland residents in 2013 that offer strong evidence some people are too dumb to possess a cellphone or at least discern what's a real emergency.

The list was released Monday by E-Comm and is just a taste of what staff regularly field at southwestern B.C.'s emergency communications centre.

In the number one spot this year was a call E-Comm's Matthew Collins received from a caller wanting to rent a fire truck to block off a street for a party.

"My son won't give me the remote control," another caller reported as an emergency to a 911 call-taker.

"Can an officer come over to tell my kids to go to bed?" asked another.

E-Comm spokesperson Jody Robertson said people who make nuisance calls to 911 are tying up valuable resources for people with real life-and-death emergencies.

"There are many documented cases of children as young as two and three years old properly making emergency calls," she said. "Little ones seem to get it. Others among us seem to require a bit more help."

Robertson wasn't able to say how many of the 2,500 daily emergency calls fall into the nuisance category but added far too many calls come in seeking information about power outages, what time it is, when to turn clocks back or about local or international events.

"I think if you ask our staff they'd say it's gotten worse," she said. "It happens way too many times and it happens every single day."

Robertson said the one she found remarkable was the caller who asked for the OK to drive in the HOV lane because traffic was backed up and they were late for a meeting.

"I appreciate them asking permission but you've really got to ask yourself if it's that important that you would dial 911 and potentially take a 911 call operator's time away from someone in serious need."

She said it was "sadly" difficult to narrow the list of absurd reasons down to just 10.

But anyone can search Twitter for #911EmergOnly to find more 911 bozo calls tweeted regularly by E-Comm staff from @EComm911_info.

Older examples include people reporting a large spider in the living room or that their TV is broken.

A huge problem for E-Comm remains pocket dials by cellphone users or calls otherwise made in error.

About 100,000 of those calls come in each year or nearly 10 per cent of total volume.

E-Comm recommends using keylocks, protective cases and not pre-programming 911 into phones to help cut down on the problem

Some people quickly hang up when they realize they dialed 911 by mistake.

"That's actually the worst thing you can do," Robertson said, adding call takers must then make repeated attempts to call you back to make sure there's no emergency.

If the call came from a landline, she added, police will likely be dispatched to ensure you're okay.

Non-emergency calls – like reporting vandalism to your car – should go through the 10-digit non-emergency police number.

E-Comm’s top-ten 911 nuisance calls for 2013:

1. “I'd like to speak to someone about renting a fire truck to block off a street for a party."
2. A caller phoned 911 to get their date’s contact information so they could confirm details of their plans.
3. A caller phoned 911 to report a missed newspaper delivery.
4. Caller asks 911 if they can get the 'OK' to drive in the HOV lane because “traffic is backed up and they are late for an important meeting.”
5. Caller dials 911 to activate voicemail on his cellphone.
6. “I threw my phone into the garbage can and can't get it out.”
7. Caller dials 911 to ask for a morning wake-up call.
8. Caller dials 911 to ask how to call the operator.
9. “Can an officer come over to tell my kids to go to bed?”
10. “My son won’t give me the remote control.”

 

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