Regional district opens debate on dispatch

  • Mar. 16, 2015 8:00 p.m.

By Stacey MarpleHaida Gwaii ObserverHaida Gwaii’s regional district directors are exploring their dispatch options with the hopes of streamlining dispatch procedures and smoothing out the geographical confusion dispatchers sometimes face when taking a call from the islands.The debate started with an issue specific to Tlell, when regional district planner Morganne Williams outlined three options to improve their fire response by outsourcing dispatch to one of three outfits: Ontario-based Northern911, Prince George-based E-comm, or Prince Rupert Fire Rescue. Williams recommended the board enter into a one-year agreement with Northern911, based on affordability and the opportunity for a short-term deal.”Northern911 is the organization Port Clements uses and say they have a good working relationship with. It is the most affordable option that was presented. It has a one-time start-up fee of $350 and then $150 per month after that and you can sign a one, two or three-year contract with no price variation,” she said. Williams noted Prince Rupert Fire Rescue would need more time before being able to provide the service, and E-comm required an immediate $5,000 investment plus either a commitment of $15,000 per fire department of fluctuating annual fees. The Village of Queen Charlotte fire department uses an off island answering system that costs under $100 per month for the service. “We have found a system that is working for us” said QC fire chief Larry Duke. The only time that this system doesn’t work is when the island loses long distance calling, which doesn’t happen a lot. It was then that chairperson Barry Pages asked if Northern911 could be an option to bring all communities under the same umbrella.”It would make sense if everybody was using the same service on the island,” he said.While the idea found support from some island directors, Port Clements Mayor Ian Gould said he has some concerns about that based on past experiences.”If we go island-wide then there is a difficulty [for dispatchers] knowing which community [the 911 call originates from]. If it’s specific to one community then it eliminates that problem. For example, in Port Clements if we provide information for just Port Clements it may be a lot cleaner that having seven communities in different areas,” he said.Gould also alluded to an incident last month when an ambulance was dispatched to Jungle Beach from Port Clements, instead of nearby Queen Charlotte, because the dispatcher in Kamloops thought it was closer.”I wonder if this is going to be a better system than what we have with BC Ambulance,” Gould said. “If we have it island-wide I can see these screw-ups regularly if it’s not specific. BC Ambulance services has their own internal system with major call centres in Vancouver, Vancouver Island and Kamloops, which is the one Haida Gwaii gets dispatched to. Kamloops call centre provides services to all communities outside the interior and Northern B.C, making it the biggest geographical dispatch operations centre in North America. Kamloops Dispatch receives over 600 calls per day and is is responsible for directing ambulances in 98 communities. Before tabling the report for next month, Pages acknowledged the geographical realities of Haida Gwaii would need to be discussed with any provider that may cover all of the islands communities.”If there are five different fire departments that Northern911 needs to get to, it is going to need to be clear that if they get the call, this is the one they need to go to,” he said.In the end directors of the Skeena-Queen Charlotte Regional District decided to table any actions until more information could be found.

Just Posted

Update: North Beach clam harvest closed due to PSP biotoxin

Marine biotoxin results in closure for all bivalve harvesting from Wiah Point to Rose Spit

In Pictures: Rock the Plank! brings in the booty

Pirate-themed skate party raises $2,500 for new Masset Skate Society

Haida Gwaii fishing grounds are key to survival of northern resident killer whales: DFO

Plan marks waters from Langara to Rose Spit as critical habitat for northern resident killer whales

Masset suggests a simpler structure for Gwaii Trust

Change would parallel existing municipal, regional district representation for non-Haida communities

Grade 9s on Gwaii Haanas trip visit “the best spot on Haida Gwaii”

Now in its fourth year, Grade 9 trip gives Haida Gwaii youth a chance to visit Tanu and Windy Bay

Here’s what you need to know about Day 1 at the BC Games

All 18 events kick off on the track, riding ring, fields, courts and lake in the Cowichan Valley

Seal attacks kayakers in the Broughton Archipelago

“It has to be one chance in a million of this happening.”

Victoria-area park sign removed after glitch redirects to porn site

Resident looking to learn more about workout equipment discovered the problem code

Special Olympic athletes take on BC Games during special anniversary

Known as the Global Day of Inclusion, July 20 marks the first Special Olympics in 1968 in Chicago

Scammers dressed as Mounties threaten to arrest senior if she doesn’t cough up cash

Pair of fraudulent officers threaten to arrest 90-year-old woman

Fundraiser to help mom of jogger detained after crossing U.S. border

Cedella Roman, 19, was held in U.S. after accidentally crossing border in South Surrey

Trump slams Federal Reserve rate hikes

Fed raised benchmark rate for a second time this year in June, and projects two more hikes to come

Okanagan Wildfires: The latest on wildfires and evacuations

A Friday morning look at the major wildfires impact the Okanagan and Similkameen.

UPDATED: 1,500 residents on evacuation alert as Peachland under state of emergency

The Mount Eneas wildfire has forced an evacuation alert of 596 properties

Most Read