There has been an alarming uptick in the number of non-emergency calls coming into 9-1-1, according to Springfield Police.
"In the last few months, we've noticed that we're getting a number of 911 calls that are definitely not emergencies", explains Constable Jesse Zillman. "It's concerning as it seems to be increasing. The number of people calling 911 for non-emergencies is going up."
Zillman details the types of calls that are most certainly not emergencies. "We've had calls about parking complaints, calls about asking for directions, noise complaints, and even livestock calls. Recently, I took a call where someone had found a wallet about a week before calling. Not reasons people should be calling 911."
When someone calls 911, it is not as simple as some may think and the issues that come from non-emergency calls go through a few levels according to Zillman "When you call 911, you get routed to whatever service you may need and in what jurisdiction. An example would be if there's a fire, you go to the fire department. If there's a burglary in progress, you get the RCMP. If you call 911 to report a found wallet, for example, you're taking up time in the cue, you're then getting bumped to the call center at the operational communication center and you're taking up their time."
"You're basically taking a spot in line that's for house fires, heart attacks, or a robbery." Zillman says adding it could be the difference between life and death. "The time it takes for a call to go from 911 to the service responsible and then getting those members dispatched is within the minutes time frame. If someone takes up three or four minutes with a non-emergency, that can be life-changing."
If you're wondering when it would be an appropriate time to call 911, Zillman has a simple philosophy. "It's all about the two R's. Risk and recency. 911 calls are when someone is at real risk of being harmed in some way and when it's happening right now. If you want to call and report a burglary that happened a week ago, that's not 911 as it's not right now, they are long gone. If there's a burglary happening right at the moment, that's when you'd call 911."
When it comes to the RM of Springfield, Zillman says to call the non-emergency line instead of 911 when something doesn't fit into the 'Risk and Recency' categories, "204-444-3391. That's what you call. We want to spread the word about that number. 204-444-3391. Please call that and not 911 unless it's an emergency requiring an urgent response."