Skip to main content

911 calls soar amid B.C. heat wave

The province’s 911 service saw a massive increase in year-over-year 911 calls this past weekend, highlighting the impact weather can have on emergency services.

As with other first responders, E-Comm 911 had anticipated a busy weekend with warm weather in the forecast, and had scheduled more staff to keep up with the expected demand.

“We did see a 61 per cent increase in 911 call volumes compared to the weekend similar in May of last year,” said communications manager, Kaila Butler. “It was a busy weekend across the board.”

Last year, B.C. had an unusually cool and wet May, so the call volumes were lower, likely due to fewer people doing yard work, getting injured in recreational activities, or grappling with record-setting heat.

Butler says they have dedicated workforce analysts crunching the numbers and weighing weather conditions, special events, and other factors that could impact demand on the 911 dispatch centre which re-routes calls to police agencies, fire departments, and BC Emergency Health Services; another section of E-Comm handles dispatch for the VPD.

While BC EHS did not have exact statistics on overall call volume, they observed a massive jump in calls for heat-related illness. In the first two weeks of May, they’ve had 54 calls, 38 of them this past weekend. Last year, they had only 10 for the entire month.

“A big, change from last year, certainly, from last May to this May,” said paramedic information officer, Brian Twaites, noting they didn’t have a big spike in calls. 

He also says their staffing levels and response plan went smoothly and they did not have to call in extra paramedics and dispatchers given the stable demand. Heat-related calls accounted for about 2 per cent of all calls for ambulance, according to BCEHS.

Despite an expectation that more people would be hospitalized with the sudden change in weather and many people at heightened health risk, Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health told CTV News their hospital admissions remained consistent with the same weekend last year. Top Stories

Stay Connected