News : 911 Call Centre Moves from Kelowna to Vancouver
Nov 18, 2014 -- The 911 operator you call in an emergency is now in the Lower Mainland.
The telecommunications centre on Acland Road has moved out of Kelowna to Vancouver to save taxpayers' money in the Central Okanagan and eight other regional districts. As of Tuesday, all 911 calls are answered by E-Comm, a private emergency-call centre at the Coast.
By contracting out the service, the Regional District of the Central Okanagan will save in operating costs over five years, said spokesman Bruce Smith. The eight other regional districts, which include North Okanagan and Okanagan-Similkameen, share savings over the same period.
Until this week, the RCMP provided the service to all nine Interior districts at its Southeast District operations centre near Reid's Corner. The operators who ask "police, fire or ambulance – how may I direct your call?" and transfer callers to the appropriate agency have been stationed at the Kelowna RCMP office since 1988.
The Mounties announced in 2012 they planned to raise their fees significantly for the service, said RDCO Chair Robert Hobson. After a review, the district signed the five-year contract with E-Comm.
Three staff operators have been laid off. They have dibs on jobs that come up within the regional district or the RCMP. Another nine positions filled by contract workers or RCMP staff have been phased out.
Last year, the Kelowna centre handled 226,796 emergency calls made in the nine regional districts. E-Comm, which provides emergency-call service to Metro Vancouver and the Sunshine Coast, received 861,694 calls in 2013.
The company says operators answered 98 per cent of last year's calls within five seconds.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About E-Comm 9-1-1:
E-Comm 9-1-1 is a multi-municipality agency that provides emergency communications operations for the region of southwest British Columbia. The company coordinates 9-1-1 service for police, fire, and ambulance service, providing call-taking and dispatch services for multiple agencies in the Lower Mainland area. E-Comm's service area covers Metro Vancouver (from Lions Bay to Langley), the Sunshine Coast Regional District, south Squamish-Lillooet Regional District and the Whistler-Howe Sound area serving a population of more than two million residents. The company provides call-taking for all participating municipalities, transferring incoming calls to the appropriate agency. Furthermore, E-Comm provides dispatch services for eleven police departments and nineteen fire departments.
Published: Thursday, November 20, 2014
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