Public a Key Part of Identifying 9-1-1 Service Concerns

Recent follow-up by a Kimberley resident with concerns about a 9-1-1 call he placed has helped the RDEK identify and correct an issue with dispatch terminology.

“We had a resident contact one of our South Country Rural Fire Departments recently after he called to report a vehicle fire on a rural road and the local fire department didn’t respond,” explains RDEK Emergency Services Coordinator Travis Abbey. “We have a system in place to follow up on questions or concerns regarding both 9-1-1 and fire dispatch, and during the investigation into this complaint, it was discovered that there was an error in the dispatch of that call.”

The call was transferred by the dispatch centre to the BC Wildfire Service’s Southeast Fire Centre as it was interpreted to be outside the fire protection area. While RCMP responded to the vehicle fire to monitor the situation, the BC Wildfire Service did not dispatch a crew as the fire was isolated and not in danger of spreading. Through follow-up on the inquiry, it was determined the fire was actually within a fire protection area.

“We want to thank the individuals who came forward to ask about the circumstances of this particular call as it has helped us identify ways to improve the communication and dispatch terminology and ensure this situation is not repeated in the future,” adds Abbey.  “In the RDEK, well over 1500 9-1-1 calls are placed every year and the vast majority of those calls are placed and handled seamlessly; however, when someone experiences an issue with 9-1-1 or fire dispatch, we need to hear from them. This is an excellent example of how hearing about a concern can help us investigate and, if possible, put measures in place to improve the system.”

Public concerns can be directed to the RDEK’s Emergency Services Coordinator, Travis Abbey at 250-489-2791 or toll free 1-888-478-7335.

The RDEK provides 9-1-1 service to the region. The 9-1-1 service is contracted to E-Comm and callers are asked if they require police, fire or ambulance.  E-Comm’s job is to connect the caller as quickly as possible to the agency requested and remain on the line until the appropriate dispatch has answered. Police calls are handled directly by E-Comm, while ambulance calls are forwarded to the BC Ambulance Service Dispatch in Kamloops, and fire calls are dispatched by the fire dispatch centre in Kelowna.