Cowichan 9-1-1 calls to be routed to Vancouver first

A Vancouver-based call centre has been deemed the “best option” for emergency calls originating from central Vancouver Island.

A Vancouver-based call centre has been deemed the “best option” for emergency calls originating from central Vancouver Island.

According to a CVRD press release, a recent independent study commissioned by the City of Nanaimo and the Regional Districts of Nanaimo and Cowichan Valley, who jointly own the Central Island 9-1-1 system, recently determined that transferring the Primary Public-Safety Answer Point portion of 9-1-1 response would result in considerable cost savings and also provide access to additional staffing resources and the necessary expertise to satisfy current and future technical requirements for 9-1-1.

In other words, it’s more efficient to ship calls out to Vancouver first.

“The study concluded that E-Comm has the ability to handle large spikes in incoming 9-1-1 call volume due to the size of the centre and its staffing model,” says Mike Dietrich, Nanaimo’s manager of Police Support Services.

“Combined with its built-in redundancies, we agree that E-Comm provides the best option for the Central Island 9-1-1 partnership both technically and operationally, particularly as the overall 9-1-1 system in Canada evolves in the future,” Dietrich added.

PSAP is just the first point of contact for 9-1-1 callers. They will still speak with Island-based call-takers once transferred to dispatch centres located in Nanaimo (fire), Courtenay (police) and Victoria (ambulance).

But first, they’ll hear from E-Comm staff who work at a purpose-built facility in Vancouver that’s designed to resist a major earthquake and be self-sufficient for 72 hours before being put through to the required agency.

The new internal system will have no impact on the public’s experience when calling 9-1-1, they stressed. The switchover will occur on Nov. 17.

“E-Comm staff have managed more than 15-million incoming 9-1-1 calls in our 16-years of service,” said David Guscott, E-Comm President and CEO. “We are committed to ensuring residents of the Central Island continue to receive high-quality, responsive services 24-hours a day.”

E-Comm currently manages approximately 1.25 million 9-1-1 emergency calls each year from across British Columbia. Its service is 24/7, 365 days a year and has a number of back-up provisions to ensure the continuity of 9-1-1 call answer services in a variety of scenarios.