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Edmonton Police Service

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When To Call 9-1-1

For Immediate Release: 23-Nov-2021 @ 1:00 PM
MRU #: 21R092

The Edmonton Police Service is reminding citizens of the risks associated with the misuse of 9-1-1

From January 1 to Sept 1 of 2021, the Edmonton Police Service’s Emergency Communications and Operations Management Branch (ECOMB) received over 347,826 9-1-1 calls. Approximately 46.8% of these calls were not transferred to police, fire or EMS, meaning they were not emergency calls. This includes accidental 9-1-1 misdials, hang ups and calls for non-emergency situations. 

“Accidental 9-1-1 calls and hang-ups are extremely common, and we understand that citizens sometimes make a mistake or just don’t know the right number to call. We receive hundreds of these calls each week and we work on educating the public rather than going straight to enforcement,” ECOMB Manager, Kalie Anderson explains. “If someone calls 9-1-1 with a genuine intent to get help and the situation is not an emergency, our highly trained Emergency Communications Officers (ECOs) will transfer their call to our non-emergency line to make sure they get the help they need without tying up a 9-1-1 line for other callers.” 

Recent examples of callers who either didn’t know who to call or wanted to air out their frustrations, includes a 9-1-1 call regarding an overflowing toilet, as well as a call from a person waiting too long in a fast food drive-thru when they were late for work. Although these calls may seem humorous, they tie up our ECOs from assisting citizens who are experiencing a true, and sometimes life-threatening emergency. When receiving calls like these, our ECOs educate the callers so they understand the proper use of 9-1-1 and the risks associated with making such erroneous calls.

However, in extreme cases, enforcement through the Emergency 9-1-1 Act is used, typically towards those who make incessant frivolous calls. This repeated misuse of 9-1-1 can cause a delayed response from first responders, as operators are having to spend time speaking to the caller and determining if there is an emergency. This puts innocent citizens who need immediate emergency assistance at risk. To date, EPS has charged 17 people under the Emergency 9-1-1 Act for frivolous calls to the emergency line this year, including one person who had called 9-1-1 44 times within seven hours.

“Last year, we laid 20 charges for frivolous use of 9-1-1. This year, we are not far from that threshold once again.  We hope educating the public on the other options available for their needs will help reduce the number of non-emergency calls we receive through 9-1-1, and the amount of time our ECOs may have to spend ensuring the caller is okay,” Kalie continues. “For example, when callers hang up because they have accidentally dialled 9-1-1, our ECOs have to spend time trying to contact you to ensure you are safe. So please stay on the line if you ever accidentally dial 9-1-1 to let our ECOs know that it was a mistake. You will not get into trouble.”

EPS has numerous options available to report non-emergency situations. Our non-emergency line, 780-423-4567 (or #377 from a mobile device within Edmonton), is available 24/7. 

You can also report the following crimes online
Theft from/Mischief to Autos under $5000
Damage to Vehicle (not collision related)
Damage to Property
Lost/Found Property
Thefts/Mischiefs under $5000
Break and Enter into a detached garage or shed
Attempted Break and Enter into a detached garage or shed
Sexual Assaults *Some restrictions apply; please click for details

3-1-1 is also available to report bylaw concerns and parking complaints, as well as city services requests or questions.

Please see our website for more information on EPS’ contact methods to best suit your needs.

 

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For media inquiries please contact the EPS Media Relations Unit at
780-421-3551.

"Dedicated to Protect, Proud to Serve"