Skip to main content

B.C.'s 911 dispatch operator warns of high call volume, long wait times

Vancouver -

B.C.'s largest emergency dispatch operator issued a warning Thursday about long wait times, which meant some callers heard a recorded message while they waited for assistance.

E-Comm, which handles the vast majority of 911 calls in B.C., posted to social media Thursday night about the delays, especially for those waiting to be transferred to the ambulance service.

Some people who heard a recorded message reportedly hung up.

"If you call and hear a recorded message, please DO NOT hang. We will answer your call as soon as possible," the agency tweeted. "You will get help faster by staying on the line."

Those reporting a non-emergency were asked to make reports online if possible.

B.C. Emergency Health Services told CTV News Vancouver by email that it has experienced a high number of medical emergency calls over the past couple days. Non-urgent calls in Vancouver had a wait time of about two hours on Thursday.

BCEHS said it saw the second-highest day for medical emergency calls for overdoses on Wednesday. In a 24-hour period, 173 calls were made. Thursday also saw a high number of calls for overdoses with 157. Of those, 44 were in Vancouver alone.

"Our dispatchers and medical emergency call takers have very challenging, high-pressure jobs, more so during peak call volumes," BCEHS said in the emailed statement.

"The public can help us by ensuring they are only calling 911 if they have a medical emergency. If it’s medical advice that’s needed, or a non-urgent concern, please call 811 to speak to a nurse."

By about 10:15 p.m., E-Comm said 911 emergency lines were stabilizing. Police non-emergency lines still had wait times at that point, however.

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Nafeesa Karim Top Stories

Minimum wage rises in six provinces, but is it enough?

Amid a cost-of-living crisis driving up food bank visits and economic anxiety, the minimum wage increased in six provinces today – but both advocates and critics fear it may not be enough to tackle the overarching problem.

Stay Connected