E-Comm 9-1-1 dispatchers have had to redirect 36 per cent of calls. (Black Press file)

E-Comm 9-1-1 dispatchers have had to redirect 36 per cent of calls. (Black Press file)

9-1-1, police non-emergency lines tied up with redirected calls: E-Comm

Continued high call volumes and lengthy wait times on police non-emergency lines

Thirty-six per cent of calls to 911 are actually non-emergency calls that need to be redirected, according to E-Comm,B.C.’s 9-1-1 dispatcher.

This, combined with an extraordinarily high demand for emergency services has led to longer wait times.

E-Comm also anticipates continued challenges with long wait times on police non-emergency lines, the agency said in a press release.

“Heading into the busier summer months, we always expected to see increased call volumes,” said Oliver Grüter-Andrew, President and CEO of E-Comm. “But the current strain on emergency services, including 9-1-1, is extraordinary. This record-breaking demand has led to increased wait times on police non-emergency lines, as E-Comm call takers must prioritize life or death emergencies coming through 9-1-1.”

9-1-1 lines have been busy this summer between the record-breaking heatwave, wildfire season, ongoing opioid crisis and the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, says E-Comm. The agency adds that they have been struggling with increasing demand and longer wait times on police non-emergency lines for the past few years.

RCMP in Cranbrook have been encouraging the use of their online crime reporting tool, or crime stoppers, for that very reason.

With a recent rise in local theft, Cranbrook RCMP reminded residents back in May to use online crime reporting tool for any theft under $5,000.

E-Comm is reporting that up to 36 per cent of police non-emergency calls do not belong on these lines and must be redirected to other, more appropriate resources.

READ: RCMP encourage use of online crime reporting tool after rise in local thefts

“For many of the calls we receive on non-emergency numbers, a police call taker is not the right person to action the caller’s concern. Knowing when to call 9-1-1, when to call the non-emergency line to report a non-urgent police matter or when to call elsewhere doesn’t just free up these critical resources – it also means callers can get the help they need faster,” said Grüter-Andrew.

The most common re-directs are to local police agencies, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, ICBC, local civic services (bylaw, traffic, etc.), and the BC Residential Tenancy Branch.

Any crime that is not an emergency in Cranbrook can be reported through the online crime reporting tool, which can be found at www.bc.rcmp.ca/cranbrook/report. You can also call the local detachment at 250-489-3471.

Residents can report the following crimes online:

– Damage/mischief to property under $5,000

– Damage/mischief to a vehicle under $5,000

– Hit and run to an unoccupied vehicle or property

– Theft of bicycle under $5,000

– Theft under $5,000

– Theft from vehicle under $5,000

– Lost property

For those who aren’t sure if their call belongs on the police non-emergency line, E-Comm has a list of alternative resources and information on its website at ecomm911.ca.


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