It may seem obvious, but a 911 call to the B.C. Ambulance Service won’t help you deal with insect problems.
And don’t call 911 when your beer supplies are gone, or if your cellphone is acting up.
Believe it or not, these are among the unusual reasons people had for contacting emergency-medical dispatchers at the provincial ambulance service in 2012. Here is a partial list:
• I think my house is infested with fleas. Can someone come and check it out?
• My husband is driving me crazy. I need you to take him away.
• I can’t get through to my cell provider.
• I swallowed toothpaste. I didn’t spit it out. Will it make me sick? n 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 so I’m not late?
Funny? Sure, but also a good reminder that the 911 system is not something to trivialize, said Pauline Park, who heads the dispatch centre for Vancouver Island. Every call that comes in has to be assessed.
“It’s not for us to question somebody’s integrity.”
Most of the approximately 394,000 calls to 911 for an ambulance in the province last year were legitimate.
Park said those who call with unsuitable requests are reminded that the system is intended for medical emergencies.
“We do try and help some people, as well. If it’s a phone number they want for a hospital or a doctor’s office, it’s easier sometimes just to give them the numbers, and try to explain the use of 911.”
They are only so many 911 lines and 911 operators, Park said.
“Once they’re tied up dealing with these types of calls, possibly a genuine medical emergency can’t get through in a timely manner.”
© Copyright 2013