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Blog | 911 Emergency Dispatcher | 911 Emergency Dispatch

Media Statement: Response to open letter of CUPE Local 8911

Vancouver, B.C. – E-Comm has been very transparent about the fact that our organization is understaffed and underfunded. As the usage of emergency communication services continues to increase, the current funding model – which is a local government level responsibility – is not meeting the needs of the system or the public. We share CUPE Local 8911’s view that the current funding model is inadequate and we need local, regional and provincial levels of government to re-consider how best to ensure the system is properly funded.

We recognize provincial and local governments have limited resources, but we need to find a way to ensure the critical public safety services E-Comm provides are appropriately managed, delivered and resourced. This is why we are working closely with our first responder partners and governments at both levels – provincial and municipal – to ensure we are providing the best services possible.

We believe E-Comm’s consolidated model of emergency communications service delivery is the most efficient and cost effective one for B.C. Therefore, we will continue to advocate for the funding and resources our organization needs to deliver the right level of service for British Columbians.

The contribution of our staff to public safety in our province cannot be overstated. They play a critical role in emergency services and we recognize the toll our service delivery challenges are having on our people. We are continually impressed by the dedication of our employees, who work longer hours and take on extra shifts, often missing breaks and not getting the downtime they need. And we understand the impact this is having on our frontline staff. E-Comm is committed to the well-being of all our employees and will continue to work toward ensuring our organization is properly staffed and funded in a sustainable way.

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About E-Comm

E-Comm is the first point of contact for 9-1-1 callers in 25 regional districts in British Columbia and provides dispatch services for more than 70 police agencies and fire departments. E‐Comm also owns and operates the largest multi‐jurisdictional, tri‐service, wide‐area radio network in the province used by police, fire and ambulance personnel throughout Metro Vancouver and parts of the Fraser Valley. In 2019, E-Comm received more than 1.84 million 9-1-1 calls in B.C. and answered 97 per cent of those calls in five seconds or less.

Media Contact

media@ecomm911.ca
604-215-6248

E-Comm estimates close to 20% of 9-1-1 calls in B.C. are accidental

Dialing 9-1-1 by mistake may put others in danger by diverting critical emergency resources

 

Vancouver, B.C.—If you have ever dialed 9-1-1 by accident, you are not alone. E-Comm estimates that nearly 20 per cent of the emergency calls it receives are accidental. While it may be an innocent mistake, the impact of accidental calls can be harmful and E-Comm is asking for the public’s help to prevent pocket dials or accidental calls to 9-1-1.

“During each shift, a significant number of calls I receive on the emergency lines are misdials or hang-ups from people who have accidentally called 9-1-1,” confirms Police Call Taker Roanne. “Some pocket dials are obvious – we can hear people having fun, singing along to music while they’re driving or cheering at sporting events. But we still need to take the time to call people back and confirm there isn’t an emergency happening.”

Accidental calls are dangerous because they take critical resources away from people in emergencies who need them the most. E-Comm call takers are trained to treat every 9-1-1 call as an emergency until they can confidently determine otherwise – a process integral to ensuring the safety of its callers, particularly those who might be in crisis but unable to communicate verbally.

E-Comm receives hundreds of accidental calls every single day. To raise awareness around this issue, E-Comm has launched a new public education campaign comprised of two dramatic accidental call renditions that illustrate how difficult it can be for call takers to discern between accidental calls and real emergencies.

Accidental calls are a growing concern in part, due to the rapid growth of mobile devices. E-Comm has seen 79% of 9-1-1 calls come from a cellphone so far in 2022, a significant increase from 67% in 2012. As a result, we are seeing more and more accidental calls flood our emergency lines.

“Many times, people don’t even realize that they’ve called us by mistake and when they do, they instinctively hang up the phone,” says Police Call Taker Meegan. “If you call 9-1-1 by accident, please don’t hang up. As our videos illustrate, sometimes it can be difficult to know if what we’re hearing on the other end of the line is an emergency situation or a misdial. The important thing is to stay on the line and let us know so that we can ensure you are safe.”

Five tips for preventing pocket dials:

  1. Lock and store your cellphone carefully whenever it’s not in use.
  2. Know and understand the features on your cellphone and smartwatch. If you have “fall detection” or Emergency SOS functions enabled, become familiar with how they are triggered.
  3. Turn your device on airplane mode if children are playing with it.
  4. Do not program 9-1-1 into any phone.
  5. If you do call 9-1-1 by accident, do not hang up. We need you to stay on the line so that we can ensure your safety.

Learn more about accidental calls here. Want to become a public safety superstar? Protect your loved ones and pledge to use 9-1-1 responsibly at www.911pledge.ca.

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Interview Opportunity

Police Call Takers Meegan and Roanne will be available for interviews on Wednesday, July 20 from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm PDT. Media are invited to E-Comm’s Vancouver location at 3301 East Pender Street, Vancouver B.C. Interviews must be confirmed in advance.

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About E-Comm


E-Comm is the first point of contact for 9-1-1 callers in 25 regional districts in British Columbia and provides dispatch services for more than 70 police agencies and fire departments across the province. E‐Comm also owns and operates the largest multi‐jurisdictional, tri‐service, wide‐area radio network in the province used by police, fire and ambulance personnel throughout Metro Vancouver and parts of the Fraser Valley.

Media Contact

E-Comm
604-215-6248
media@ecomm911.ca

UPDATED: Rogers Communications Outage

Vancouver, B.C., July 11 — At approximately 5:30 p.m. on July 10, Rogers Communications Inc., (Rogers) advised that services had been restored for most of their customers.

Please note that the 9-1-1 system was not compromised during the outage and remains fully functional at this time.

If you continue to experience problems with your cellular service, please contact Rogers directly.

E-Comm continues to advise members of the public without access to a working phone and in need of emergency services, to first try dialing 9-1-1. If you are unable to connect, find alternate means of contacting 9-1-1. This includes using a landline or wireless device serviced by a different carrier, going to a neighbour’s house, using phones at nearby businesses or community centres, or heading to the closest fire department for assistance. We also ask that people refrain from making test calls to 9-1-1. It is imperative we keep the lines open for emergency calls only.

For more information and updates about the outage contact Rogers Communications.

 

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Vancouver, B.C., July 8 —Today, at approximately 2 a.m., E-Comm began to receive reports of a telecommunications outage impacting Rogers and Fido customers across Canada. At this time customers with either carrier are not able to use their phones to make any calls; including to 9-1-1. Please note that the 9-1-1 system is not compromised and remains fully functional. At this time the outage impacts Rogers and Fido customers only.

E-Comm is advising members of the public without access to a working phone and in need of emergency services to find alternate means of contacting 9-1-1. This includes using a landline or wireless device serviced by a different carrier, going to a neighbour’s house, using phones at nearby businesses or community centres, or heading to the closest fire department for assistance. We also ask that people refrain from making test calls to 9-1-1. It is imperative we keep the lines open for emergency calls only.

For more information and updates about the outage contact Rogers Communications.

 

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Media Contact:
E-Comm 9-1-1
604-215-6248
media@ecomm911.ca

Enhanced clear, safe and reliable radio communications now in place for Maple Ridge Fire Rescue

Maple Ridge, B.C. – Firefighters in Maple Ridge are now communicating on the E-Comm Wide-Area Radio Network, the largest emergency radio network in British Columbia.

Maple Ridge Fire Rescue officially cut over to the radio network at 1000hrs on June 28, 2022, meaning firefighters in the community are now able to seamlessly communicate with other emergency service agencies including Ridge Meadows RCMP and BC Ambulance Service.  With top-of-the-line radio equipment, firefighters, police officers and paramedics can all talk to each other on the same channels. This increased interoperability between first responders ultimately enhances the emergency response capabilities for the safety of both the public and Maple Ridge firefighters.

“Community and first responder safety is of paramount importance,” said Mayor Mike Morden of Maple Ridge. “Adding interagency cross-communication on updated radios on a clear and secure 24-hour network will go further to save lives and property.”

E-Comm’s radio network provides Maple Ridge firefighters with stronger and wider radio coverage, greater clarity, improved reliability and enhanced security features through an earthquake-resistant infrastructure. The fully encrypted P25 network also better protects the privacy of the public, as first responders often need to communicate necessary personal and private information over the radio.

“Radios are a lifeline for first responders,” said Michael Van Dop, chief of Maple Ridge Fire Rescue. “Joining the E-Comm radio network gives us access to the best equipment and clear and reliable radio channels. This transition will have a tremendous impact on how firefighters do their jobs and their ability to keep themselves and the community safe.”

“This latest move expands E-Comm’s public safety partnership with Maple Ridge,” said Oliver Grüter-Andrew, E-Comm President and CEO. “We already provide 9-1-1 call answer and police dispatch services to the community and are pleased to welcome Maple Ridge Fire and Rescue to the radio network. We know firefighters will benefit from being on the system as they respond to complex issues in challenging environments.”

Spanning from Lions Bay to Abbotsford, more than 40 police, fire, ambulance and municipal agencies are using the E-Comm Wide-Area Radio Network. The network has about 13,000 active or available radios. In 2021, radio system users made nearly 54 million transmissions on the network.

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About E-Comm
E-Comm is the first point of contact for 9-1-1 callers in 25 regional districts in British Columbia and provides dispatch services for more than 70 police agencies and fire departments across the province. E‐Comm also owns and operates the largest multi‐jurisdictional, tri‐service, wide‐area radio network in the province used by police, fire and ambulance personnel throughout Metro Vancouver and parts of the Fraser Valley.

 

Media Contacts

E-Comm
Dolly Loi
Communications Specialist
media@ecomm911.ca
604-215-6248

City of Maple Ridge
Fred Armstrong
Manager of Community Engagement and Relations
farmstrong@mapleridge.ca
604-476-7452

 

E-Comm Staffing: Canada Day long weekend

Vancouver, B.C. – Heading into the Canada Day long weekend, E-Comm expects it to be a busy few days for emergency services.

Based on the forecasts of our data and workforce management team, at this point, we want to reassure the public that we believe there are enough staff scheduled to meet anticipated emergency call volumes. However, because E-Comm call takers answer both emergency and non-emergency calls for police, extended wait times on the non-emergency lines are expected throughout the weekend as our staff prioritize incoming 9-1-1 calls.

E-Comm has been very transparent about the fact that our organization is understaffed and underfunded. Within that context, the weekend staffing numbers are 10% less than the number of call takers we are budgeted for and 22% less on the dispatch side. But even if E-Comm had zero vacancies and we were staffed to budget, we would still not have enough people to meet the increasing call volumes we’re seeing for emergency and non-emergency lines, which are some of the highest we’ve ever experienced in E-Comm’s 23-years of service.

The contribution of our staff to public safety in B.C. cannot be overstated – they are truly the first first responders and play a critical role in emergency services. We are continually impressed by the dedication of our employees and are committed to their well-being.

Many of our employees work overtime which is how we can ensure minimum staffing levels are being met. Like many other organizations and public safety agencies, there have been times where E-Comm has found itself in a position where we needed to bring people in on ‘forced overtime’ in order to ensure we have enough people answering the 9-1-1 lines and dispatching first responders. This is a mechanism provided for in our collective agreement with CUPE Local 8911 and is used in extreme cases only.

Over the past four weeks this has occurred eight times, including for this weekend where we have had to schedule one employee on ‘forced overtime’. When this does happen, staff are compensated in accordance with the collective agreement.

That said, we recognize the impacts of regular overtime on our staff and continue to focus on recruiting new employees and working with our emergency service partners to ensure the organization is resourced and funded to meet increasing demands.

Where we can use the public’s help, is in knowing when to call 9-1-1, and when not to do so. To this end, last week, we launched our Help Us Help Campaign, to raise the public’s awareness and knowledge of what constitutes an emergency call, and what is a non-emergency call, thereby encouraging the public to use 9-1-1 responsibly.

 

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Media Contact:

E-Comm
604-215-6248
media@ecomm911.ca

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