British Columbia

Worst 911 calls, 2016 edition: Help, my gym locker is broken!

B.C.'s largest emergency call centre handles 1.35 million calls a year, but there are a few callers they may want to block.

'There’s a big spider in the bathroom' is number 7 on E-Comm 911's list

Do not call 911 and use up the E-Comm operator's time if the situation does not need immediate police attention. (E-Comm)

B.C.'s largest emergency call centre handles 1.35 million calls a year, but there are a few callers they may want to block.

Like the person frantic about a bug in their bathtub, or the one struggling with a broken gym locker.

E-Comm 911 operators juggle calls for 35 police and fire departments every day. They're urging nuisance callers to use non-emergency numbers instead of risking lives by wasting time and tying up lines.

Calling 911 should only be done if immediate dispatch or police is needed — so not for an old crime, not for a job inquiry, not to remove graffiti from your street.

E-Comm provides 911 services to the area highlighted gold in B.C. (E-Comm911.ca)

Call-takers Jim Beland and Chris Faris had the top two 911 nuisance calls of the year: a broken gym locker and someone enquiring about job opportunities with the police.

"I'd like to be able to say that calls such as the ones on our top ten list are rare, but unfortunately this isn't the case," Beland said in a written statement.

"As call-takers our job is to treat each call like an emergency until we can determine otherwise, and this takes time. We want our time reserved for people who need help because they have a legitimate emergency."

Megan Wong was working at the E-Comm call centre the night of the December 29, 2015 earthquake when they were flooded with nuisance calls. Often people just wanted to know if they had felt an earthquake. (CBC)

A common mistake people make is believing that 911 is akin to Google or a one-stop information hotline of sorts.

If the call starts with "This is not an emergency, but..." it's probably a nuisance call.

"That's a concern when we know there are other people out there who need our help," Faris said.

Top 10 dumb 911 calls in 2016

1. Requesting help opening a broken gym locker

2. Inquiring about job opportunities for a family member interested in police work

3. Because an electric shaver would not turn off

4. Requesting a ladder to get a soccer ball off the roof

5. Asking how best to get a drone down from a tree

6. Tired of waiting in traffic

7. "There's a big spider in the bathroom"

8. Complaining they couldn't get into a nightclub

9. Teenager refused to do chores

10. "Can you tell me what time it is?"

There are numbers to call for non-emergencies, and they can be found at ecomm911.ca.

In 2013 E-Comm reported similar 'bad' calls. They seem to come every year.

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