9-1-1 misuse a pressing issue

9-1-1 misuse a pressing issue
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Mashaal Effendi

Mashaal Effendi is a writer and new Torontonian, having started the new chapter of his life moving to Canada in Oakville.Mashaal has worked as a writer in film, television, theatre, advertising, communications, and even in speechwriting during his time as a Toastmaster.An avid reader, video game enthusiast, and musician ( who presently plays drums for a band called "The Downgrades"), Mashaal enjoys gathering experiences around Oakville, and is ecstatic to be on the team covering events that breathe life into the community.

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​On April 16, 2019, a 9-1-1 call was received by the Halton Regional Police. The person reported that a woman had been shot. The call pulled in a large police and EMS emergency response at 7:45 pm to Walkers Line in Burlington.

Responders at the scene of the crime found the allegations to be false. The police responded to a completely separate report of missing property. Allegedly, a 27-year-old called in the report, landing him a criminal charge.

The 27-year-old was charged with:

  1. Public Mischief
  2. Conveying False Messaging

This incident is only one of many where the 9-1-1 helpline was been misused.

In 2018, the Halton Regional Police Service’s Communications Bureau answered more than 270,000 calls, of which 121,000 were received on 9-1-1.

Illegitimate 9-1-1 calls made include:

  1. Information related to hydro outages
  2. Information related to weather/road conditions
  3. Medical advice

Other incidents wrongly reported on the emergency line are property crimes that have already taken place.

“For example, if your car was entered overnight and something was stolen, we would encourage you to contact the non-emergency line,” says Ryan Anderson of the Halton Regional Police Service.

“Police would like to remind the public that 911 is only to be used in an emergency.  Furthermore, it is a criminal offence to make a false 911 call and such hoaxes divert first responders from actual emergencies.”

Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Other organizations that you can call first:

  • COAST – mental health
  • Humane Society –  wild animals
  • By-Law – noise disturbance
  • Oakville Hydro – electricity outages

Ultimately, 9-1-1 is used for immediate danger – a crime in progress.

A 9-1-1 call diverts emergency responders such as the police and the EMA away from actual emergencies.

Misusing the line may appear harmless, but eventually this misdemeanour can distract the authorities from cracking down on real emergencies, and may land you with a criminal charge. 


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