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Funny 911 Calls, Tips and FAQs

April 12th, 2016 | by admin admin | in Security Advice |    0   comments

baby_phone.jpgAt Radius Security, we work with emergency services dispatchers almost every day. When we receive alerts for crimes in progress, fires or medical situations, we rapidly determine which are real emergencies and call 9-1-1. The dispatchers are unfailingly professional as we relay information and support our police officers, fire fighters and EMTs.

In 2015, E-Comm 9-1-1 handled 1,246,520 in Metro Vancouver and 24 other regional districts and communities. In Surrey RCMP alone received 378,000 9-1-1 calls resulting in 181,000 police files. In 98 per cent of cases, calls are answered in five seconds or less.

Unfortunately, 25 to 30 per cent of those calls are false alarms. One woman in Saskatoon wanted someone to pick up her pastries from Safeway. In B.C., the 2015 list of most outrageous 9-1-1 calls included complaints about a child refusing to buckle his seat belt, a roommate using the caller’s toothbrush, a coffee shop refusing to refill coffee, and a basketball stuck in a tree. Other callers requested numbers for the non-emergency line and a local tire dealership. [http://www.vancouversun.com/news/metro/comm+releases+2015+list+reasons+phone/11619512/story.html]

While amusing, these false calls are a huge waste of resources. Dropped calls, pocket dials and children playing with phones are likely the most frustrating calls. Each dropped or unintelligible call still requires a call-back or police attendance. That’s a lot of wasted resources. Here’s how you can help:

1. Only call if there is an immediate threat to a person or property, or a crime in progress.

2. Lock your cell phone and keep it away from children. An old phone with a battery charge but no SIM card can still call 9-1-1.

3. Dial international numbers very slowly and carefully.

4. Most importantly, if you make a mistake, stay on the line and answer questions from the call taker. Otherwise, the emergency communications centre will need to track you down to make sure you’re OK.

In honour of Emergency Services Dispatchers and 911 Awareness Week (April 10 to 16), Surrey RCMP has also published answers to the top five questions they receive about 9-1-1 calls. Here’s a brief summary:

1. Why am I put on hold when I call police?

Non-emergency calls take longer to respond to (22 versus 7 seconds), so dispatchers may put such calls on hold in order to respond to emergencies. During peak times, this wait time may take longer.

2. Why don’t police always attend when I call?

Not all calls require an officer to attend. Sometimes you only need a report for insurance purposes. However, all information is logged for crime trend analysis. 

3. Why do call takers ask so many questions?

Police are already being dispatched while highly-trained call takers gather information to accurately understand the situation. Your date of birth may seem irrelevant, but it allows police to ensure they are dealing with the right person at any given time. There are many John Smiths, but not usually with the same birthday. 

4. What is the point of reporting crime or suspicious activity if the police might not even attend?

Every incident reported is analyzed and assessed to identify crime trends and public safety issues. This information allows police to make informed decisions on resource deployment and crime reduction initiatives.

5. I don't know where I am calling from. Can't you just GPS my phone?

Using GPS to locate cell phones takes a long time, requires assistance from the cell phone provider, and is not always accurate. Instead of making police search a 2,000-metre radius for you, they can reach you faster if you provide a specific address or cross street.



E-Comm 9-1-1. 9-1-1 Call Statistics.

Surrey R.C.M.P. Surrey RCMP Acknowledge Emergency Services Dispatchers and 911 Awareness Week.

Vancouver Sun. BC E-Comm Releases 2015 Top 10 List of Reasons Not to Phone 911.

Huffington Post. Pocket Dials a Big Issue for 911 Dispatch.


Note: This blog discusses general safety and security topics. It is not intended to provide comprehensive advice or guidance. In all matters of personal safety and security, we encourage readers to research topics in depth and consult a security professional about specific concerns.

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