A graph showing medical emergency call volumes from 2016 to 2021 based on data from BC Emergency Health Services. The figure for 2021 is a projection based on the number of call volumes recorded as of September. (Figures by Sean Feagan)

A graph showing medical emergency call volumes from 2016 to 2021 based on data from BC Emergency Health Services. The figure for 2021 is a projection based on the number of call volumes recorded as of September. (Figures by Sean Feagan)

Top calls to 911 in 2021 were not life or death related

Nuisance calls are the top 911 calls for 2021

E-Comm, B.C.’s emergency-call-takers, has released their year-end recap, which says 2021 was the service’s busiest year in more than two decades of operation.

More than 1.9 million 911 calls were made last year, leading to some of the service’s busiest days ever.

As first-responders were kept busy with various emergencies last year, E-comm lines continued to be tied up with non-emergency reports, consumer complaints and general questions, (considered nuisance calls ) that often meant taking time away from actual emergencies and adding to phone line waiting times.

“Our staff worked tirelessly throughout the heat dome, wildfires and flooding emergencies to support our first-responder partners and get help to those who needed it as quickly as possible,” said E-Comm spokeswoman Jasmine Bradley.

“It was disheartening to learn that we continued to receive 911 calls from people looking for information or trying to make general service complaints when so many communities were experiencing critical emergency situations,” Bradley stated.

The Top Ten nuisance calls to 911 are as follows:

1 The barista mixed up their coffee order.

2 A pedestrian was splashed on the sidewalk.

3 Requesting a COVID-19 test.

4 Inquiring about becoming a 911 call-taker.

5 Wanting to know where they could vote during the federal election.

6 Looking for weather updates.

7 Asking for directions.

8 Wondering why the bus wasn’t coming.

9 Inquiring about COVID restrictions.

10 Reporting a messy roommate.

“Call-takers are trained to treat every call as an emergency until proven otherwise, so every second spent on a nuisance call is time taken away from another potentially life-threatening call,” according to Bradley

“Callers are reminded that 911 is only meant for situations involving life or death scenarios.”

 

Kathryn Haeffner, an emergency service operator, provides guidance during a call. (File photo)

Kathryn Haeffner, an emergency service operator, provides guidance during a call. (File photo)