If you butt dial 9-1-1, don’t just hang up

Accidental calls to 9-1-1 have been on the rise, and E-Comm, the organization that handles 99% of the calls in B.C., has a new campaign to raise awareness of the issue.

The problem has grown in recent years—now representing as much as 20% of all 9-1-1 calls received—along with the proliferation of smartphones, which make it easy for people in an emergency to call for help, but also leads to people dialling 9-1-1 by mistake and then hanging up when they realize what they’ve done.

When someone accidentally calls 9-1-1, E-Comm wants them to stay on the line so the call taker can confirm there is no emergency.

Two new ads from One Twenty Three West, depict the problem, opening with scary scenes of people in trouble and the 9-1-1 operator taking their call and trying to figure out what is wrong. In both cases, it turns out the caller is fine. In one a woman is simply out for a run, not running for her life. In the other, a boy is watching a scary movie, not hiding in his closet.

The campaign launched on July 20, and is running for eight weeks across Facebook, Instagram and Youtube, with a focus on the Lower Mainland.

David Brown