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B.C.'s 911 flooded with COVID-19 calls

Don’t call 911 except for emergencies
Emergency Dispatchers of BC are asking the public to only call 911 in real emergencies. Photograph By JOSHUA BERSON/AMBULANCE PARAMEDICS OF BC

Don’t call 911 except for emergencies – this is the message coming from emergency dispatchers as they are flooded with non-urgent calls, especially those related to COVID-19.

These calls include questions about travel restrictions, isolation rules and complaints about neighbours, said Matthew Bordewick, chairperson of Emergency Dispatchers of BC.

“These calls are tying up the lines for life-and-death calls for ambulance, police and fire,” Bordewick added.

The Ambulance Paramedics of BC reported in late March that, while other calls are down, the number of COVID-19 related calls have increased substantially – they estimated this was 75 per cent of all calls to 911 dispatch.

Contacts for medical information:

  • COVID-19: call 811, 1-888-COVID19 or your doctor
  • Mental health support: Canadian Mental Health Association at 1-833-456-4566

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