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Police renew call for non-emergency 911 calls to stop
Julia Parrish, CTV Edmonton
Published Tuesday, February 26, 2013 4:02PM MST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 26, 2013 6:38PM MST
Months after police pushed Edmontonians to only call 911 in the case of emergencies, the number of errant calls to dispatchers hasn’t dropped – so police are launching a second phase of a year-long campaign, with a series of ads asking residents to ‘make the right call’.
Police said about 60 percent of all calls made to 911 aren’t emergencies, and can take valuable time away from people who could be calling with a real emergency.
“After we launched the first phase of our campaign in November 2012, we saw a slight decrease in the number of errant calls to 911 for about two weeks,” Insp. Blair Edl with Police Dispatch and 911 Section said in a press release. “In December, the calls went up again, and that same trend is continuing again this year.”
Last year, a total of 379,917 calls came in to 911, of those, 244,929, or more than 64 percent were not emergencies.
Last month, a total of 28,186 calls were made to 911 – where 17,628 or 62 percent were not emergencies.
In only 20 days, between Feb. 1 and 20, 2013 – 18,290 calls were received by 911 dispatchers, where only 6,766 were actual emergencies.
According to police, many of those calls came from people who didn’t know the difference between an actual emergency and a non-emergency, or they were pocket dials; most of those come from mobile phones.
A number of other errant 911 calls came from unregistered phones, which might have been given to children as toys, or they were prank calls, users trying to call long distance or trying to call numbers starting with 9.
As a result, police are launching a second phase in their campaign to remind callers which number is appropriate to call in different situations, between the Edmonton Police Service non-emergency line at 780-423-4567 or #377 from a mobile phone, and 911.
Police said 911 should be called only in life-threatening situations, including medical episodes and fires, and during crimes in progress.
Edmontonians should call the EPS non-emergency line if they see someone who may be suspicious or a suspicious activity, if their vehicle had been broken into or property vandalized, if a non-violent crime was committed and if they’re in a collision, aren’t hurt, but their vehicle isn’t driveable.
As part of the campaign, all residents and businesses in the city will receive a brochure on the subject – in addition to ads going up on buses and on the LRT.
The campaign will also remind callers of what to do if they accidentally dial 911.
“The most important thing to remember is, please don’t hang up,” Kim Pudde, 911 Supervisor said in a press release. “You won’t get in trouble. Just stay on the line and let the operator know that you don’t need help.
“If you hang up, the police may need to respond to your call, which could take time and resources away from someone with a real emergency.”