As of 10:33 a.m. today, 9-1-1 calls from the Central and Southern Interiors are being answered by E-Comm—British Columbia’s largest 9-1-1 public-safety answer point.
The changeover to E-Comm will be transparent to residents, who should dial 9-1-1 as usual. Calls will be routed to the same local police, fire and ambulance dispatchers who currently dispatch first responders to emergency situations.
After four months of collaborative technical and operational planning that included the engineering, design and installation of new 9-1-1 infrastructure, the transfer of 9-1-1 services for the Central Okanagan, North Okanagan, Central Kootenay, Columbia-Shuswap, Okanagan-Similkameen, Thompson-Nicola, East Kootenay, Kootenay-Boundary and Squamish-Lillooet (North) regional districts occurred seamlessly. Representatives from the new service areas were onsite at E-Comm to witness the official cutover.
“This is a significant event for all nine interior regional districts involved,” said Regional District of Central Okanagan board chair Robert Hobson. “Public safety is always our top priority. E-Comm’s outstanding track record means residents will receive the same high-quality level of service they are accustomed to, but with added operational and technical benefits. These include a larger workforce to handle high call volume and increased security and resiliency.”
Hobson added that there will also be significant cost savings for each of the regional districts.
The approximately 230,000 emergency calls placed each year from the regional districts will now be routed to E-Comm, where highly-trained 9-1-1 call-takers will quickly confirm which agency the caller requires and for which location. Police calls will then be transferred to the same dispatchers in Kelowna, fire calls will continue to be dispatched by centres in Cranbrook, the Fraser Valley, Kamloops, Kelowna, Surrey, Trail and Vernon while ambulance calls will continue to be managed by the BC Ambulance Service’s dispatch centre in Kamloops.
Part of the robust preparations surrounding this morning’s transition included more than 240 test calls across all regional districts. Geography familiarization was also a priority for E-Comm call-takers in the lead-up to today, with the many geographical and other special attributes of the new service area being a focus of their training program, along with the policies and procedures for individual agencies.
“9-1-1 is a lifeline, which is why thorough preparation was our top priority for today’s transition,” explained David Guscott, E-Comm president and CEO. “We’re eager, and ready, to share our large team of experienced 9-1-1 staff, our technology and purpose-built facility with residents in the Central and Southern Interior and we are proud to be their partners in public safety.”