Parents teach their children how to dial 911 from an early age in case there is ever an emergency and the child needs to get help immediately. However the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are reminding parents that it's also important to stress to children what actually constitutes an emergency after a 12-year-old boy from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada recently dialed 911 to complain about the salad his parents made for him.
In an open post on their Facebook page, the RCMP are reminding parents to speak with their children about when to call 911 after receiving not one, but two calls from the young boy. They wrote that the child first called just before 10 pm to issue his complaint about not liking his salad, and called back a second time before authorities had a chance to arrive at his home to once again complain.
Police arrived at the boy's house and spoke to the 12-year-old not only about his salad but about the importance of only requesting emergency services when it is a true emergency.
Cpl. Dal Hutchinson stated that the improper use of 911 isn't new, and that it isn't just kids who are responsible for making the calls, but adults too.
Hutchinson told CBC that these calls happen daily in Nova Scotia alone, some made in error and other times for ridiculous non-emergencies.
"They've involved everything from someone calling 911 complaining that there wasn't enough donair meat on their donair. Another one a person couldn't find their TV remote so they called 911," he said.
The officer said that 911 should only be used in cases of actual emergencies, as every improper call uses up resources and time that could be dedicated to a real emergency.
"If somebody's at risk of being harmed or it's a life-threatening situation whether it be a motor vehicle collision or an assault in progress or break and enter — those are the situations that require someone to call 911," he said. "It's an immediate emergency, you need first responders there as soon as possible," he added.
He also added that police are obligated to respond to all 911 calls, even if they're from a 12- year-old who didn't like his salad.
The officers used the boy's call as a teaching opportunity to speak to the young man about the importance of proper use of 911, and stated that his parents "were not impressed" that their son chose to call the police.
"Hopefully, this will be a learning lesson … it created an opportunity for him to learn something from this," Hutchinson said.