A husband getting on a wife's nerves, someone who has run out of beer - these are the kinds of frivolous calls that 911 services receive.
Last year B.C. Ambulance Service dispatchers received more than 394,000 calls and unfortunately many were oddball calls that waste time and resources.
Here's a sampling of the oddball calls 911 operators have received.
- I think my house is infested with fleas. Can someone come and check it out?
- I can't get through to my cell provider. Can you help me?
- My husband is driving me crazy. I need you to take him away.
- I need you to get hold of my doctor for me - the office is closed.
- I'm out of beer.
- I swallowed toothpaste. I didn't spit it out. Will it make me sick?
- There's a dead crow in my yard. Could I get West Nile disease from it?
- I don't need an ambulance, but if I do, how much does it cost?
- I have a doctor's appointment in the morning. Could you call me at 8:00 so I'm not late?
- What's the phone number to the hospital nearest to me?
BCAS director of Dispatch Operations Gord Kirk oversees dispatch centres in Vancouver, Victoria and Kamloops, as well as the more than 240 dispatch staff who serve the province.
He strongly recommends that 911 calls for ambulance service be used for medical emergencies only.
"It's important to remember that we're here to help people with emergency medical situations. Calls that are inappropriate divert resources from those who need swift medical attention."
BCAS encourages the public to dial 911 for assistance during a medical emergency. Alternatives to calling an ambulance include contacting the 811 tele-health service, accessing a walk-in clinic, making an appointment with a family doctor or visiting a hospital emergency department if necessary. Hospital emergency departments triage all patients that arrive, including those by ambulance.
BCAS operates under the authority of the Emergency and Health Services Commission (EHSC) to provide residents and health care professionals with access to pre-hospital emergency and patient transfer services. The EHSC also oversees BC Bedline and Trauma Services BC. The EHSC is a division of the Provincial Health Services Authority, which manages high-quality specialized health care services across B.C.
EComm provides 911 service for Metro Vancouver and says people should only use 911 for true emergencies. 9-1-1 is for police, fire, or medical emergencies when immediate action is required: someone's health, safety or property is in jeopardy or a crime is in progress.
There are non-emergency contact information for police, fire and ambulance services and should be used for