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Pitt Meadows firefighters enhance public safety by joining E-Comm’s radio network

Pitt Meadows firefighters are now communicating on the E-Comm Wide-Area Radio Network, after joining the system on September 14, 2021. This transition will enhance the emergency response capabilities of the firefighters, elevating the safety of the entire Pitt Meadows community.

Since joining the network, Pitt Meadows Fire & Rescue Services are now able to seamlessly communicate over the radio with other emergency service agencies including Ridge Meadows RCMP and BC Ambulance Service. This interoperability is critical to public safety as it allows the firefighters to coordinate their response with fellow police, fire and ambulance partners across municipal boundaries who are also communicating on E-Comm’s shared radio network.

Pitt Meadows Fire & Rescue Services joined 16 other fire departments in Metro Vancouver, all police agencies in Metro Vancouver and Abbotsford and BC Emergency Health Services who use the E-Comm Wide-Area Radio Network. The network has about 13,000 activate or available radios. In 2020, firefighters, police officers and paramedics made 53.7 million transmissions on the network.

E-Comm is proud to welcome Pitt Meadows Fire & Rescue Services as a radio partner.

Read more about Pitt Meadows Fire & Rescue joining the network.

Find out more about the network and E-Comm’s technology services.

Enhanced radio coverage, clarity and reliability: Pitt Meadows Fire & Rescue Services joins E-Comm’s Radio Network

Vancouver, B.C.–At 0815hrs today, Pitt Meadows Fire & Rescue Services officially cutover to the E-Comm Wide-Area Radio Network, the largest multi‐jurisdictional, tri‐service, wide‐area radio network in the province. With this transition, firefighters are now able to seamlessly communicate over the radio with other emergency service agencies – including Ridge Meadows RCMP and BC Ambulance Service. This increased interoperability between first responders ultimately enhances the emergency response capabilities for the safety of both the public and Pitt Meadows firefighters.

“Joining the E-Comm radio system is a critical part of keeping our first responders and the public safe in an emergency,” said Bill Dingwall, Pitt Meadows Mayor. “Being able to have our first responders access and share information with each other, as quickly and efficiently as possible, will allow for better response that meets the safety needs of our community.”

“This much-needed new and improved communications system will allow us to talk directly and seamlessly with other first responders, which will be particularly beneficial when responding to multi-agency calls like motor vehicle crashes and large-scale incidents in difficult to access areas such as Pitt Lake,” said Mike Larsson, Pitt Meadows Fire Chief. “Not only will our firefighters have state-of-the-art radio communications, but it will help facilitate faster emergency response for the residents of Pitt Meadows.”

E-Comm’s radio network provides Pitt Meadows 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.

“In addition to 9-1-1 call answer and police dispatch services, we’re very pleased to expand our public safety relationship with the City of Pitt Meadows as Pitt Meadows Fire and Rescue Services joins our radio system,” said Oliver Grüter-Andrew, E-Comm President and CEO. “From battling fires to responding to complex rescues, firefighters work in the utmost challenging environments in which communication is paramount. Being able to provide enhanced, crystal-clear and secure radio communications is critical in keeping first responders and the residents of Pitt Meadows safe.”

BC Emergency Health Services within Metro Vancouver and Abbotsford, all police agencies in Metro Vancouver and Abbotsford and 17 fire departments in Metro Vancouver use the E-Comm Wide-Area Radio Network to communicate with one another. The network has about 10,000 active or available radios. In 2020, firefighters, police officers, paramedics and municipal users made approximately 53.7 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. 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 Pitt Meadows

Carolyn Baldridge
Manager of Communications and Community Engagement
cbaldridge@pittmeadows.ca

Help Us Help by Making the Right Call

Answering police non-emergency calls is an important part of the work we do on behalf of our 33 police agency partners, but not every non-urgent matter requires a call to your police non-emergency line. Approximately 36% of calls E-Comm receives on police non-emergency lines need to be redirected to a more appropriate resource for help. Knowing who to call when you have a problem will help ensure you get the assistance you need as quickly as possible, while keeping critical lines free for genuine police matters.

Although E-Comm’s goal is to answer all non-emergency calls as quickly and efficiently as possible, there are times where non-emergency callers must wait to reach a call taker, as our call takers answer both 9-1-1 and non-emergency calls and must prioritize 9-1-1 lines first. Receiving calls on police non-emergency lines that are better suited elsewhere only adds to these extended wait times.

The public can help us help, by making the right calls and sharing the following non-emergency tips:

  • Knowing when to call 9-1-1, when to call the non-emergency line with a non-urgent police matter or when an alternative resource is better suited for your concerns means you can get the help you need faster.
  • If you are experiencing a lengthy delay on the non-emergency line, do not call 9-1-1 – unless your matter has escalated to a life-threatening situation and immediate action is now required by first responders.
  • If you need to call the police non-emergency line, try to make your report before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. on a weekday to help minimize your wait time.
  • Many non-urgent crimes can be reported through online crime reporting on local police websites – visit nonemergency.ca to see if this service is available in your area.
  • Are you unsure where to call for help?
    • If you are experiencing a life threatening emergency, please dial 9-1-1.
    • For concerns of a non-urgent nature, check online to see if you should call the police non-emergency line, report your concerns through online crime-reporting or reach out to an alternate resource.

We want to thank the public for your patience and understanding as our hardworking call takers prioritize answering calls from those who are experiencing life or death emergencies first.

What are the reasons for longer wait times on police non-emergency lines?

Although wait times on police non-emergency lines have been steadily increasing over the past few years, these challenges have been exacerbated by the extraordinarily high call volumes on 9-1-1 lines experienced so far in 2021 and ongoing staffing challenges, which are being seen by emergency communications centres across the country.

How long will I have to wait if I call the police non-emergency line?

Wait times to reach a police non-emergency call taker can be impacted by call volumes, the type and complexity of the calls we receive, and even the time of day. So far in 2021 (June 30), we have answered 243,439 calls to police non-emergency lines and 95% of those calls were answered in 15 minutes or less, although we recognize that some callers waited much longer than this.

What is E-Comm doing to minimize the wait times on police non-emergency lines?

While we can’t promise to eliminate all wait times to speak with a non-emergency call taker, E-Comm is committed to ensuring we have the appropriate resourcing needed to answer these calls as quickly as possible. We are currently in discussion with our partner agencies to evaluate funding for our current and future staffing needs. In addition to maximizing staffing levels, we are also working closely with our partners to scale up the availability of online crime reporting, allowing you to file even more types of police reports at your own convenience, without needing to speak with a call taker.

How can I voice my concerns about wait times or share an experience I had speaking with an E-Comm call taker?

If you would like to speak directly to us about a service concern, you can reach out to us through the contact us tab on our website or by emailing talktoecomm@ecomm911.ca.

E-Comm warns of continued high call volumes and lengthy waits on police non-emergency lines

With 36 per cent of police non-emergency calls needing to be redirected, new E-Comm campaign urges people to ‘make the right call.’

Vancouver, B.C.—Extraordinarily high demand for emergency services has led to longer wait times on police non-emergency lines answered by E-Comm, as call takers prioritize a record-breaking number of 9-1-1 calls from people in life or death situations.

A number of major incidents across the province, from gang-related shootings and the ongoing opioid crisis, to the historic heatwave that swept across British Columbia and the earlier-than-normal wildfire season, have resulted in increasing 9-1-1 call volumes. Now, with the province nearing the end of COVID-19 restrictions, E-Comm, the emergency communications centre responsible for answering 99 per cent of B.C.’s 9-1-1 calls, anticipates continued challenges with long wait times on police non-emergency lines.

“Heading into the busier summer months, we always expected to see increased call volumes,” says Oliver Grüter-Andrew, President and CEO of E-Comm. “But the current strain on emergency services, including 9-1-1, is extraordinary. This record-breaking demand has led to increased wait times on police non-emergency lines, as E-Comm call takers must prioritize answering life or death emergencies coming through on 9-1-1.”

E-Comm has been struggling with increasing demand and longer wait times on police non-emergency lines for the past few years, but the problem has been greatly exacerbated by higher call volumes on 9-1-1 and ongoing staffing challenges. Adding to current issues with wait times, E-Comm is reporting that up to 36 per cent of police non-emergency calls do not belong on these lines and must be redirected to other more appropriate resources. This is a huge drain on police dispatch services and takes up valuable call taker time that could otherwise be spent on helping people needing to report actual non-urgent police matters.

“For many of the calls we receive on non-emergency numbers, a police call taker is not the right person to action the caller’s concern. Knowing when to call 9-1-1, when to call the non-emergency line to report a non-urgent police matter or when to call elsewhere doesn’t just free up these critical resources – it also means callers can get the help they need faster,” explains Grüter-Andrew.
Of the 36 per cent of calls that cannot be handled on police non-emergency lines, some of the most common redirects are:

  • Local police agency
    Visit your local police agency’s website for information about finger printing services, criminal record checks or requests for copies of police reports.
  • Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
    Call 1-888-495-8501 or report fraud online if you have experienced fraud or a fraud attempt but did not lose any money.
  • ICBC
    Call 1-800-910-4222 or make a claims report online if you were involved in a motor vehicle incident where there are no injuries or imminent threat to public safety and all vehicles are drivable.
  • Local civic services
    Visit local municipal websites for all questions or concerns related to city bylaws including dumped garbage, parking-related complaints or concerns about traffic lights.
  • BC Residential Tenancy Branch
    Call 1-800-665-8779 to ask questions about tenancy laws or to get help with landlord/tenant disputes or apply for dispute resolution online.

For those who aren’t sure if their call belongs on the police non-emergency line, E-Comm has a list of alternative resources and information on its website. Meanwhile, many non-emergency concerns can be reported online, at the caller’s convenience. Otherwise, calling on a weekday outside the hours of 7:00 a.m.—7:00 p.m. can help reduce the wait time to speak with a police non-emergency call taker. A full list of links to online crime reporting and non-emergency phone numbers is available at nonemergency.ca.

E-Comm appreciates the public’s support as it continues to navigate the busy summer months and wants to remind the public that everyone can do their part by keeping 9-1-1 lines free for police, fire and ambulance emergencies only.

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Media Contact
Jasmine Bradley
604-215-6248
media@ecomm911.ca

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.

E-Comm celebrates 22 years of public safety services

Today marks 22 years of helping to save lives and protect property in British Columbia.

Before E-Comm came to be, first responders operated on their own independent radio systems – which meant that police, fire and ambulance personnel were not able to communicate with one another. When the Stanley Cup riots broke out in Vancouver in 1994, the Vancouver Police were forced to request back up from neighbouring RCMP detachments and other first responders. Police, paramedics, and firefighters found themselves in danger when they could not communicate with one another to help diffuse the crowds because their radios were not compatible. During this time, it became very clear that a new, consolidated system was needed. E-Comm was born to be the owner and operator of this new radio system, now the largest multi-jurisdictional, tri-service emergency radio system in British Columbia, and it was decided the organization would begin 9-1-1 call answer and dispatch as well. On June 8, 1999, E-Comm 9-1-1 officially opened its doors, answering the very first 9-1-1 call for the Vancouver Police at the brand new emergency communications centre.

Over two decades later, E-Comm has grown to a team of more than 700 public safety communications professionals across four locations. We serve as the first point of contact for 9-1-1 callers in 25 regional districts and provide dispatch services for 73 police and fire agencies, handling more than 1.8 million 9-1-1 calls a year.

E-Comm plays an integral role in helping save lives and protect property in British Columbia. While we have evolved over the last 22 years, one thing remains the same: our passion for public safety. We extend a big thank you to all of our past and present partners, board members, stakeholders and every employee at E-Comm that plays an integral role in keeping our communities safe.

Have you made a call to 9-1-1 before? Canadians are likely to call 9-1-1 at least twice in their lifetime. Whether you have been impacted by an emergency, or you want to recognize the behind-the-scenes heroes who keep our community safe, you can thank an E-Comm staff member below.

Thank a 9-1-1 Hero

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