Don't call 911 if you lose your wallet (because that actually happens), Peel police say

Less than 60 per cent of 911 calls to Peel Regional Police are deemed 911-worthy emergencies, according to the force. And that can mean officers are delayed getting to people who actually need help.

According to the force, less than six of ten 911 calls are actual emergencies

Peel police field 30,000 911 calls every month, many of which are for non-emergency situations. (James Morrison-Collalto/CBC)

If you wake up on any given morning and just don't feel like going to work, Peel police have a request to make of you: don't call 911 and ask the operator to call your boss.

Yes, that happens.

Less than 60 per cent of 911 calls to Peel Regional Police are deemed 911-worthy emergencies, according to the force. And that means officers can be delayed in getting to people who actually need help.

Need an example of a non-emergency call? Listen to this:

Peel police emergency services communicators, as 911 operators are called, receive about 30,000 calls each month. Anyone who calls 911 in the area reaches them before being diverted to whichever emergency services agency is deemed appropriate.

Earlier this week, the force launched a communications campaign aimed at educating residents on how to know when they should call 911, and when they should not.

"For a life-threatening [situation] or imminent danger or crime that's in progress, that's when you call 911," Peel Const. Bally Saini told CBC Radio's Metro Morning on Friday.

"Don't call 911 if you don't want to go in to work, or if you've lost your wallet."

Calls 'consuming a lot of time'

Communicator Sandeep Hayer said she has had callers dial 911 daily to ask what time it is, to complain that the bank isn't open and yes, to ask her to call in sick on their behalf.

"When these calls are coming in they are consuming a lot of time for highly trained communicators. Each call has to be deemed an emergency until they can decide otherwise," Hayer told Metro Morning.

"So they either have to keep an open line and listen for background noises, or if the line gets disconnected they have to then call back and actually determine whether or not it's an emergency before we can move on to the next call."

Saini and Hayer note that in some cases, people dial 911 accidentally, particularly when they are trying to make an international call. In those cases, they ask that callers stay on the line and clearly state that they have made a mistake.

Otherwise, an officer may still have to go by the caller's location to make sure everything is okay.

"The purpose of this campaign is not to make fun of the calls that people are calling in about," Saini said. "But it's to educate the community on the importance of 911."

For operators like Hayer, trading stories about unique or frivolous calls allows them to let off a bit of steam.

"I think that helps us all stay sane," she said, laughing.