Don’t let non-emergencies compete with real ones

Vancouver, B.C.—One in five 9-1-1 calls for police isn’t an emergency, according to estimates by E-Comm, B.C.’s largest emergency communications centre.

To help keep 9-1-1 lines free for emergencies that require immediate action from police, E-Comm is conducting a public awareness campaign focused on helping people better recognize when to call 9-1-1 and when to call the non-emergency line.

“9-1-1 is for those who need assistance right away – their health, safety or property is in immediate jeopardy, or a crime is in progress,” says Jasmine Bradley, E-Comm’s Manager of Corporate Communications.

Some recent examples of police matters that should have been reported on the non-emergency line, not 9-1-1:

• Vehicle break-in that happened three days earlier
• Motor vehicle crash with no injuries and the vehicle was driveable
• A break-in that occurred 90 minutes earlier, with no suspect on scene and no one at risk

In 2016, E-Comm managed more than 387,000 emergency calls for 17 police agencies in Metro Vancouver. It’s estimated that approximately 77,000 were non-emergencies.

“Before we ask a 9-1-1 caller to hang-up and call their local non-emergency number, we have to take time to assess whether the situation is an actual emergency,” explains E-Comm police call-taker Jefferey Ching, who received the call for the three-day-old vehicle break-in. “My caller certainly needed to report that break-in to police, but the non-emergency line is a better choice so that if someone calls 9-1-1 for a true emergency, they get through as soon as possible. ”

Bradley adds that if anyone is in doubt if their situation is an emergency, they should dial 9-1-1 first. “Generally speaking, if there is no immediate danger, there is a significant time delay and no suspect on scene, a 9-1-1 call-taker will refer the caller to the local non-emergency line so a report can be taken without tying up 9-1-1.”

“My caller was great and understood my reasons for needing to call non-emergency,” says Ching. “I hope people will help us by taking the opportunity to learn more about the differences and to keep their local non-emergency numbers on hand if need be.”

Non-emergency numbers within E-Comm’s service area are available at nonemergency.ca.

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Resources

Radio ads and campaign materials.

E-Comm’s Jefferey Ching, police call-taker, quoted in the news release.

Job opening at E-Comm emergency dispatch

E-Comm is the largest 9-1-1 call centre in Canada, handling approximately 1.36 million emergency calls per year for 26 regional districts and communities spanning from Vancouver Island to Alberta and from the U.S. border, to north of Prince George.

E-Comm also provides call-taking and dispatch services to 36 police agencies and fire departments in southwest B.C. and operates the largest multi-jurisdictional, tri-service emergency radio system in the province. 

For additional information, please contact:

Sam Corea
E-Comm 9-1-1
604-215-4877
sam.corea@ecomm911.ca