A 911 call taker at E-Comm headquarters.

Complaints of stale pizza, no Wi-Fi among most bone-headed 911 calls

E-Comm releases top-10 list of 2014's most inappropriate non-emergency calls to 911

Do not call 911 because your slice of pizza is stale.

Nor is it an emergency if Wi-Fi at the coffee shop isn’t working or you’ve lost your glasses.

Those are some of the most bizarrely inappropriate 911 calls made by Lower Mainland residents in 2014, according to a top 10 list released by E-Comm, southwest B.C.’s emergency communications centre.

Besides complaining about the quality of take-out food, many bozo 911 callers appear to think emergency dispatchers can double as an information service, wanting to know everything from whether it’s a stat holiday to the phone numbers for taxis or travel agents.

E-Comm spokesperson Jody Robertson said people who make “nuisance calls” to 911 tie up valuable resources for people with real life-and-death emergencies, potentially putting lives at risk.

“These kinds of calls come in every day pretty much all day long,” she said.

There isn’t an accurate count of how many there are, but Robertson said it’s “way too many.”

Nor can E-Comm staff instantly disconnect those calls – they have to be alert to the possibility that a caller feels threatened by someone nearby and is concocting a cover story so it doesn’t seem like they’ve dialed 911.

“We have to make sure the caller can speak freely and there’s not something else going on,” Robertson said.

The same sorts of scenarios – is the caller silent because of a nearby assailant or because they’ve had a heart attack – are on the minds of E-Comm staff when they get a pocket-dialed call or an accidental call where the caller hangs up.

Call-takers must phone back to make sure the person is okay, and if the call came from a landline and they can’t be reached, police are dispatched.

“Those kinds of calls can chew up a lot of resources unnecessarily.”

The number of pocket-dialed 911 calls is running at about 70,000 a year, while another 30,000 are accidental calls where the caller hangs up without explaining to staff.

Those numbers have improved slightly, Robertson said, but still amount to more than 10 per cent of the 860,000 calls to 911 each year in the Lower Mainland.

She said the most frequent “head-scratcher” calls are ones seeking basic information, adding calls to report or seek information about power outages are a major recurring problem.

True emergencies are police, fire or medical situations that require immediate action because someone’s health, safety or property is in jeopardy or a crime is in progress.

Discovering your car broken into or vandalized should be a call to your local police non-emergency number, not 911.

“We’re here to help people with real emergencies,” added 911 call taker Warner Yang, who fielded the year’s most unworthy 911 call – that Wi-Fi at the local coffee shop wasn’t working. “If someone calls 911 about internet problems that means I’m not available to help someone who really needs it.”

Classic idiot calls from past years include callers who reported a large spider in their living room, that their TV was broken or that their son wouldn’t hand over the remote control.

Other requests have included callers seeking permission to drive in the HOV lanes because of congestion or wanting to rent a fire truck to block off a street for a party..

Top ten reasons to not call 911:1.    Wi-Fi at a local coffee shop isn’t working2.    “What’s the fine for jay walking?”3.    Pizza not fresh; wants a replacement slice4.    “What’s the number for my travel agency?”5.    Caller phoned 9-1-1 to ask for a taxi referral6.    “Is today a stat holiday?”7.    Food they ordered is cold8.    Wants help finding lost glasses9.    Home Internet is not working10.    “What’s the date today?”

Just Posted

Surrey killer foiled by cops’ suspicion he was underage in a bar

Birinderjeet Singh Bhangu was shot dead outside the Comfort Inn and Suites Hotel on Fraser Highway

Community invited to help with Downtown Surrey BIA’s fence art project

Association is hoping to change the ‘narrative’ for 135A Street with artwork

Surrey man who dropped brick of cocaine in front of cops loses court appeal

Amanpreet Singh Gill, 33, was sentenced to two years less a day

Blaine railway stop contingent on international support: All Aboard Washington

Non-profit organizers look to residents of Surrey, White Rock and North Whatcom County

Delta man charged after police surround Tsawwassen home

Troy Kevin Reimer, 52, is charged with one count of uttering or conveying a threat to cause death or bodily harm

VIDEO: B.C. MLA Michelle Stilwell takes first steps in nearly 30 years

‘It actually felt like walking. It’s been 27 years… but it felt realistic to me’

Report of dead body in B.C. park actually headless sex doll

This discovery, made at Manning Park on July 10, led police to uncovering two other sex mannequins

Grand Forks fire chief found to have bullied, harassed volunteer firefighter: report

WorkSafeBC, third-party human resources investigation looking into allegations complete

Dog recovering after being drenched in hot coffee, B.C. man charged

Man was taken into custody, charged, and released pending a court date

Taekwondo instructor, 21, identified as B.C. bat rabies victim

Nick Major, 21, an instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

Science expedition to Canada’s largest underwater volcano departs Vancouver Island

Crews prepared for a two-week research mission to the Explorer Seamount

B.C. shipyard to get one-third of $1.5 billion frigate-repair contract

The federal government has promised to invest $7.5 billion to maintain the 12 frigates

Worried about bats? Here’s what to do if you come across one in B.C.

Bat expert with the BC Community Bat Program urges caution around the small creatures

B.C. on right road with tougher ride-hailing driver rules, says expert

The provincial government is holding firm that ride-hailing drivers have a Class 4 licence

Most Read