Changes coming to 911 service

Starting this fall, calls to 9-1-1 will be routed through Vancouver.
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THOMPSON-OKANAGAN – Starting this fall, the first person you talk to when you dial 911 will not be in your city.

Emergency calls placed from the Regional Districts of Central Okanagan, North Okanagan, Okanagan-Similkameen, Thompson-Nicola, Columbia-Shuswap, Squamish-Lillooet (North), Central Kootenay, East Kootenay and Kootenay-Boundary Regional Districts will be answered through E-Comm, the emergency communication centre in the Lower Mainland, beginning November 18.

RDCO communications supervisor Bruce Smith says the move will have no negative impact on response times and will save the nine regional districts a total of approximately $2.1 million over five years.

“Once the transition takes place users shouldn’t notice any change,” he says. “We’re only talking about the initial operator who asks you ‘police, fire or ambulance’ and then transfers your call based on your answer.”

After that point, there is no change to the service and calls will continue to be transferred to the closest appropriate dispatch centre.

President of E-Comm David Guscott says they are committed to ensuring high-quality, responsive service utilizing top tier technology in a purpose-built building.

“(We) are focused on helping to create safer communities in B.C. through excellence in public-safety communication, and we believe that an integrated approach is a key element in achieving that vision,” Guscott says.

E-Comm received 861,694 emergency calls in 2013, answering 98% of them in five seconds or less. The National Emergency Number Association standard is to answer 90% of all calls within ten seconds.

Smith says of the 12 operators currently employed by the district, all but three will be transferred to other positions.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw at or call 250-718-0428. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

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