UFO sightings and burger requests: 911 operators say they field thousands of ‘unnecessary’ calls

Alberta 911 operators say they field hundreds of thousands of unnecessary calls each year that vary from UFO sightings to one person who requested police bring them a hamburger.

And while it may sound amusing, Tracey Duvall, the acting operations manager in one of the province’s two operational communication centres, says it takes up precious time.

As a part of the National Telecommunication Safety Week, Duvall is highlighting some of the stranger calls taking up time for Alberta 911 operators this year.

“We do actually have to make sure there isn’t an actual emergency happening, so that takes time to make sure they don’t actually need us,” she said.

Last year alone, Alberta 911 operators handled approximately 900,000 calls in the two centres and of those only about 400,000 resulted in a police file. 

In one instance, which Duvall labelled the “burger call,” a person called 911 to say they were just hungry and wanted a burger.

And when unnecessary callers aren’t treating police like a drive-thru operator, Duvall said they’re calling to alert them to alien sightings.

“SpaceX [satellites] have become a bit of an issue for us because it is an unusual pattern in the sky as they go over, so we are getting a lot of calls about that,” she said.

“While we know what it is, they are unidentified for the people calling them in.”

The operations manager said she just wants to remind callers to only use their number for emergency services; otherwise you can call the police’s non-emergency number at 403-266-1234.

“Please don’t call us if you’re hungry, but we’re there for any of your other police and sort of emergency needs for you.”

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