Calgary

UFO sightings and burger requests: 911 operators say they field thousands of 'unnecessary' calls

Alberta 911 operators say they field hundreds of thousands of unnecessary calls each year that vary from UFO sightings to one person who requested police bring them a hamburger.

Almost half of 911 calls have resulted in police reports

Alberta 911 operators say they field hundreds of thousands of calls each year that don't warrant the effort. (CBC)

Alberta 911 operators say they field hundreds of thousands of unnecessary calls each year that vary from UFO sightings to one person who requested police bring them a hamburger.

And while it may sound amusing, Tracy Duval, the acting operations manager in one of the province's two operational communication centres, says it takes up precious time.

As a part of the National Telecommunication Safety Week, Duval is highlighting some of the stranger calls taking up time for Alberta 911 operators this year.

"We do actually have to make sure there isn't an actual emergency happening, so that takes time to make sure they don't actually need us," she said.

Last year alone, Alberta 911 operators handled approximately 900,000 calls in the two centres and of those only about 400,000 resulted in a police file. 

In one instance, which Duval labelled the "burger call," a person called 911 to say they were just hungry and wanted a burger.

And when unnecessary callers aren't treating police like a drive-thru operator, Duval said they're calling to alert them to alien sightings.

"SpaceX [satellites] have become a bit of an issue for us because it is an unusual pattern in the sky as they go over, so we are getting a lot of calls about that," she said.

"While we know what it is, they are unidentified for the people calling them in."

The operations manager said she just wants to remind callers to only use their number for emergency services; otherwise you can call the police's non-emergency number at 403-266-1234.

"Please don't call us if you're hungry, but we're there for any of your other police and sort of emergency needs for you."

With files from Lucie Edwardson

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now