VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The winter weather doesn’t seem to bring out the best in many people and, unfortunately, the snow also causes some issues for emergency call-takers.
It’s been a busy day for 911 due to the snow. #HelpUsHelp keep lines free for emergencies only. Downed power line? Assume live; stay back & call 911. Minor fender bender w/no serious injuries or safety concerns for other drivers? Call insurance provider – not 911. #TY #BCStorm pic.twitter.com/1Bnl002b2G
— E-Comm 9-1-1 (@EComm911_info) February 23, 2018
At about 10 a.m. on Friday, Jasmine Bradley with E-Comm, says they started to see a significant increase in 911 call volume. “And approximately twice as many 911 calls had been coming in, compared to a regular Friday. It’s been very busy, especially for the fire departments that we dispatch for with lots of people calling in about motor vehicle incidents and in some cases downed power lines.”
She adds there is no specific area of the Lower Mainland that is seeing more calls come in. “The area is widespread. We’re getting reports of motor vehicle incidents from all across the Lower Mainland at this point and our message really is for people to call 911 if somebody’s life, safety or property is in jeopardy or there is a crime in progress.”
Bradley says if you are involved in or see a serious crash that involves injuries then you should call 911 and ask for an ambulance.
“If you see downed power lines, always assume those wires are live, stay back, call 911 and ask for the fire department.”
She adds, for the most part, most of the calls coming in to E-Comm have surrounded serious situations, but she’s using this as an example of when not to call them. “Just as a reminder for people, in the case of minor fender benders, where there is no serious injuries or safety concerns for other drivers — like no cars are blocking traffic that can create further accidents — in those cases always contact your insurance provider and make a claim, don’t call 911.”
Meantime, Vancouver Police are pleading for patience, saying they won’t be able to attend every single call immediately.
“We want to be realistic with our response times and sometimes the police are not required at every collision. We want people to plan ahead, give themselves lots of time, and before they leave to make sure their car is properly equipped with, at least, mud and snow tires,” explains Constable Jason Doucette.
If you are in a crash, Doucette suggests getting your car off the roadway safely and as soon as possible. “If the vehicle has to stay in the roadway because you can’t drive it, then get out. Don’t sit and wait in your vehicle because if you get hit a second time when you’re sitting in the vehicle — you could really put yourself at risk.”