Don’t call 911 because you’re late, urge police

Mariam Matti
Female suffering headache, not indifferent man calling ambulance, first aid
911 calls should only be made in emergency situations, not situations that give you a headache. (Getty)

Police in Ontario have released audio of a woman who called 911 to ask for an emergency ride to the train station because she was running late.

The minute long audio was posted to Twitter by Peel Regional Police on Thursday in an ongoing effort to educate the public about when it is the right time to dial 911.

In the call, the woman tells the dispatcher: “This is in terms of an officer… I’m supposed to have a trip to Union Station. The ride that was supposed to show up for me this morning did not. And I don’t know how you guys work with services in terms of that, cause I’m in a taxi right now but it’s not going to get me to the station on time for my train to board at 9:45.”

“What would you like an officer to do,” the operator replies. The woman asks if they offer emergency ride services.

“I can assure you we don’t do that,” the operator tells her.

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This is far from the first time Peel Regional Police have dealt with non-emergency calls tying up the emergency line. Sarah Patten, constable with Peel Regional Police, told Yahoo Canada that between January and February of this year, about 36 per cent of the calls they received to 911 were considered non-emergency situations.

“That is a high number and we’d like to get those numbers down if possible,” she said.

In September, a man called 911 because a restaurant put tomatoes in his fried chicken sandwich, when he asked them not to. He was asking the operator if a police officer could attend to his situation.

The call ends with the operator telling the man not to “call 911 in the future for fried chicken mishaps.”

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An Ontario woman made headlines in June 2018 for calling 911 to report her pizza wasn’t ready when she showed up at the restaurant in Elgin, Ont., to pick it up, according to Leeds County OPP.

“We want to help the public to understand that a 911 emergency situation is something that’s an immediate danger to the public or to the person calling or it’s someone in a medical emergency or if you’re witnessing a crime in progress that requires immediate police attention, that’s what we, as officers, consider a 911 emergency call,” explained Patten.

In October, Hamilton Police arrested and charged a 70-year-old Douglas Bagshaw with mischief after he called 911 to “purposely tie up emergency lines” after an Amber Alert was issued to help find five missing children in Ontario.

Throughout the year, calling the emergency line to complain about Amber Alert cellphone messages became somewhat of a trend. In May, Niagara Regional Police released audio of a man complaining to a 911 operator about receiving an Amber Alert to his phone.

“What right do you have to send an alert out to Niagara Falls, wake me up at 5 o’clock in the f****** morning,” he says.

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Several police departments have since urged the public to show compassion when receiving the alerts, rather than frustration.

Patten said police are putting a lot of information on their website to help people understand what to consider an emergency situation.

“They may consider something going on with them an emergency, but it’s not something police would consider an emergency,” she said. “It may be a miscommunication in that respect.”

For people who feel compelled to call the police in any situation, Patten recommends the non-emergency line (905-453-3311).

“We don’t want to tie up the lines for actual emergencies,” she reiterated.