Saskatchewan

'No heat in the bar,' and other unusual 911 calls to RCMP

The RCMP call centre in Saskatchewan, where 911 emergency calls are handled, received many unusual requests in 2016.

Non-urgent callers often put on hold at 911 centre

Angela Prettyshield, a dispatch supervisor for the RCMP, at the 911 call centre offices in Regina. (Submitted to CBC)

The RCMP call centre in Saskatchewan, where 911 emergency calls are handled, received many unusual requests in 2016.

"It does tie-up an emergency line," Angela Prettyshield, a dispatch supervisor for the RCMP said.

She said 911 call takers have a screening protocol they use to quickly determine the urgency of a call and if there is a need for police, fire or ambulance.

"We do ask if it is an emergency and we do ask what is going on," she said. "If it is not an emergency, we sometimes are forced to put the people on hold and deal with them once the real emergencies are dealt with."

She said their focus is always on safety for the public.

"I think people need to realize that 911 is for emergency calls or where safety is in danger," she said.

When people are simply seeking information, even on matters involving policing, there are other contact options such as calling their local detachment's office number.

There is also a non-emergency number for the RCMP dispatch office in Regina, which is 306-310-RCMP (306-310-7267).

Prettyshield said when a call comes in that is not an emergency, the call takers do their best to help out and direct the caller to an appropriate resource.

"I wouldn't say they're a nuisance," Prettyshield said. "Everybody's version of what an emergency is to them, is their emergency."

Examples, noted in a media release this week, included the following:

  • Caller needed a cab.
  • Caller wanted to wish RCMP members a Merry Christmas and also asked for area code information.
  • Caller noted a neighbour's outdoor Christmas light display was bothersome.
  • Caller wanted help to find addresses for online friends, to send them Christmas cards.
  • Caller complained because there was no heat in the bar.

With files from CBC Radio's Saskatchewan Weekend

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