Summary

B.C.s E-Comm says theres been an increase in 9-1-1 calls since COVID-19 public health orders were implemented

E-Comm says many of the phone calls werent emergencies, and that some people were calling to ask questions

To report someone whos breaking COVID-19 rules, youre asked to call your local bylaw office or police non-emergency

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – B.C.’s emergency call centre says there has been an increase in calls to 9-1-1 since public health orders were put in place.

The kinds of reports they’re getting has call-takers raising eyebrows, according to E-Comm. That includes calls from family members who are ratting each other out, saying things like, “My sister has friends over, you should send someone.”

They’re also getting calls about people complaining that businesses aren’t doing enough to keep customers safe. In both cases, it’s not an emergency.

“We definitely get some calls of people calling to report businesses not abiding by the rules like serving alcohol past the 10 p.m. timeframe,” explains Jasmine Bradley with E-Comm.

Lots of ppl @EComm911_info to report #COVID19 rule-breakers. They’re seeing:

*families ratting each other out
*complaining about businesses
*asking q’s like: “should I wear a ?”
*taking out their anger on call-takers

bylaw/your local dept’s non-emerg line instead pls

— Sonia Aslam (@SoniaSAslam) December 16, 2020

Others are also calling with really basic COVID-19 questions, like whether they need to continue wearing a mask or what to do if they may have been exposed to the virus. Questions like that can be re-directed to 811, the province’s HealthLink line, or B.C.’s dedicated hotline (1.888.COVID19) which is open from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

“Anytime somebody calls 911 for a matter that doesn’t require immediate assistance from police, fire or ambulance that’s taking up a lifeline that could potentially put somebody’s health, safety at risk by tying up that line and tying up the call-taker’s line.”

Bradley adds as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, people are starting to take their anger out on staff.

“That’s really not OK. We understand people are frustrated and anxious, we’re all feeling that, but our staff are here to help and we really do hope people remember to channel their inner Dr. Bonnie Henry and to be kind. Our staff are here 24/7 to make sure people get the help they need and we definitely want to make sure they’re being treated fairly.”

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She admits as we enter the new year still in the midst of the pandemic, the call-takers are just as drained as everyone else.

“Our staff are just as anxious and worried and concerned about the pandemic as anyone of us. As part of the essential service worker group, they’re having to come into work. They are anxious about that. They’re concerned about their families and when somebody is taking out their own frustrations on the phone with them, we really just want people to remember, these are their friends. They are neighbours, they’re family members and it’s really important to understand they’re just here to help and sometimes that means they need to ask more questions.”

Bradley explains the extra questions are to ensure first responders who are headed to the scene have all the information they need to determine if there’s any risk related to COVID-19.

If you do need to report someone who is breaking public health rules, you can call bylaw officers or your local police department’s non-emergency number.

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