Canada’s Worst 911 Nuisance Calls Include Complaining About a Bad Haircut

Getting lost on the way home from a Drake concert isn't a life-or-death situation.
'I see, sir. And when did you order the Uber Eats?'
'I see, sir. And when did you order the Uber Eats?' / Kanok Sulaiman/Moment via Getty Images

While most people understand the meaning of a true emergency, there are still those who remain a little confused. In broad terms, fire, crime, and injury are all good reasons to dial 911. Being bummed about a bad haircut is not.

E-Comm, an emergency dispatch service in British Columbia, Canada, recently released its list of the most puzzling 911 nuisance calls in 2023. None involved any kind of catastrophic event; most failed to warrant any kind of intervention at all. Among them:

  1. A traffic light was stuck on red too long
  2. An Airbnb reservation was cancelled
  3. A cell phone was missing
  4. A McDonald’s order was late
  5. Someone got lost on their way back from a Drake concert
  6. A pothole was bad
  7. A bad haircut
  8. A nose ring went down the shower drain
  9. An Uber Eats order was delayed
  10. A burger place wasn’t open

E-Comm had previously made note of the most burdensome non-emergency calls of 2022:

  1. A broken nozzle at a gas station
  2. A flat tire
  3. Kids drawing on the pavement with chalk
  4. A phone stuck in a bench
  5. Someone cutting in line at a car wash
  6. Complaining about a phone service outage
  7. Dog poop
  8. Someone playing basketball at night
  9. A broken windshield wiper
  10. Someone putting garbage in the caller’s garbage bin

Are these amusing? Sure. But these types of calls can have some serious consequences. “Nuisance calls never belong on emergency lines, but it’s extremely concerning how often callers know their non-urgent concerns aren’t an appropriate reason to call 911,” dispatcher Mark Kolomejac said in 2023. “We regularly get callers stating, ‘I know this isn’t an emergency, but I didn’t know who else to call.’”

911 was first developed in the U.S. in 1968 in an effort to streamline emergency responses. Previously, people had to know the numbers of local police and fire departments and hope someone picked up. The first call was made by Senator Rankin Fite, who dialed 911 from Haleyville, Alabama, to show off the country’s first call center. The digits were selected in part because they were relatively easy to dial on a rotary telephone.

Many communities in the U.S. have implemented an urgent-issue alternative to 911 dubbed 311. Even then, calls can be inexplicably unnecessary. In New York City, operators have fielded queries about the best way to boil a live chicken and who won American Idol in 2007. (It was Jordin Sparks.)

[h/t Global News]