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Blog | 911 Emergency Dispatcher | 911 Emergency Dispatch

Faulty fuel pumps, flat tires and frivolous complaints continued to tie up 9-1-1 resources in 2022

Vancouver, B.C., January 4, 2023—Whether you’re fed up with the nozzle failing to fuel your car at the gas station or you’re a driver dealing with a flat tire, consumer complaints do not belong on the emergency lines. E-Comm, which handles 99 per cent of B.C.’s 9-1-1 call volume at its two emergency communications centres, has released its annual top 10 list of calls that don’t belong on 9-1-1.

E-Comm call taker Mark Kolomejac has responded to many nuisance calls during his time as a police call taker. He says that although general questions and complaints might not seem like a significant burden, their impact on public safety can be detrimental. The worst part? The problem is preventable.

“Nuisance calls never belong on emergency lines, but it’s extremely concerning how often callers know their non-urgent concerns aren’t an appropriate reason to call 9-1-1. We regularly get callers stating ‘I know this isn’t an emergency, but I didn’t know who else to call,’” explains Mark. “If you have a flat tire or a broken windshield wiper for example, we can’t help you on 9-1-1, but a towing company or roadside assistance will be able to get you the support that you need.”

By making the right call, you can help ensure that your loved ones get the assistance that they need in an emergency. It can be confusing to know the right resource to reach out to, so E-Comm has a comprehensive list of alternative resources on its website: nonemergency.ca

As we enter the New Year, E-Comm is encouraging British Columbians to commit to a resolution that they can keep—protecting the province’s critical emergency resources by keeping 9-1-1 lines free for police, fire and ambulance emergencies.

E-Comm answered a total of 2,109,440 calls on 9-1-1 in 2022, marking the busiest year in the organization’s history with a 1.8 per cent increase from 2021. Of these calls, 98 per cent were answered in five seconds or less – surpassing both E-Comm’s contracted service level and industry standards for 9-1-1 call answer. Despite a publicly recognized rise in demand for all emergency services, E-Comm call takers continue to field nuisance calls on 9-1-1, diverting critical resources from British Columbians in real emergency situations.

Top 10 Nuisance Calls of 2022

  1. The nozzle wasn’t working at the gas station
  2. They had a flat tire
  3. People were playing basketball on a public court at night time
  4. Someone wasn’t picking up after their dog
  5. Someone was using their garbage bin
  6. Complaining about children drawing with chalk at a playground
  7. Their phone was stuck in a bench
  8. Looking for an update on a nationwide telco outage
  9. Someone cut in line at the car wash
  10. Someone called 9-1-1 because they had a broken window wiper

 

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Photo/Interview Opportunity

E-Comm invites the media to its Lower Mainland Emergency Communications Centre at 3301 East Pender Street on Wednesday, January 4 between 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. for interview opportunities with police call taker Mark Kolomejac. Mark can speak to his experience responding to nuisance 9-1-1 calls and the importance of protecting critical emergency resources.

Interviews must be confirmed in advance at media@ecomm911.ca

Photos and b-roll may be found here.

Media contact
Kelly Furey
Communications Specialist
604-215-6248
media@ecomm911.ca

About E-Comm
E-Comm is the first point of contact for 9-1-1 callers in 25 regional districts in British Columbia and provides dispatch services for more than 70 police agencies and fire departments across the province. E‐Comm also owns and operates the largest multi‐jurisdictional, tri‐service, wide‐area radio network in the province used by police, fire and ambulance personnel throughout Metro Vancouver and parts of the Fraser Valley.

The 9-1-1 call taker experience at E-Comm

E-Comm launches a new recruitment video

The days are so varied which is one reason I love this job: you never know what will be on the other side of the line. I have so many memorable calls I couldn’t narrow one down, but my most rewarding type of call is a wellness check when we find someone’s loved one they were concerned about and can let them know they are safe and sound.
– Meagan, police call taker

Tension-filled movies may have given you a certain idea of how a 9-1-1 emergency communications centre works, but have you ever received a firsthand impression of what a day as a 9-1-1 call taker can look like?

E-Comm has launched a new recruitment video to showcase our invaluable call takers and the work they do. Ultimately, we wanted to authentically portray all aspects of the call taker job – the qualifications, the challenges and the fulfillment. This video aims to inspire and attract talent to pursue a meaningful career with diverse growth opportunities in a unique and dynamic environment.

What does it take to be a 9-1-1 call taker?

Often called the first first responders, 9-1-1 call takers are the first point of contact for people needing immediate assistance from police, fire or ambulance in B.C. They answer emergency calls (9-1-1 calls), gather vital information from callers to get them the help they need and transfer those calls to the requested agency for response. Accountability, patience and resilience are only a few necessary skills to excel as a call taker at E-Comm.

This job can be extremely exhausting and stressful in the probationary period when you are undergoing training. Be humble, open to learning and know that it will get easier as you get more comfortable. If you want to succeed in this job, you need to be clear with your verbal communication, fast at typing, familiar with keyboard shortcut usage, and able to multitask on the computer.
– Brayden, peer coach

“If you are thinking about becoming a call taker, go for it. The training is available and you have a village of people behind you. We are all in this together and here to build each other up.” recommends Sarah, a police call taker at E-Comm.

Let the video speak for itself

Starting in 2023, E-Comm will be showing the recruitment video at call taker information sessions, career fairs, new employee orientations, industry panels, and career fairs – take a first peek at the video below and get inspired.

Did we spark your interest?

Find out if 9-1-1 call-taking is the right career path for you by taking our self-assessment and reading about the call taker experience, including qualifications, salary, the recruitment process, and more here.

Ready to start the application process? Apply below to become a 9-1-1 call taker in our Vancouver Island or Lower Mainland Emergency Communications Centre.

911 Emergency/Non-Emergency Call Taker | Vancouver Island

911 Emergency/Non-Emergency Call Taker | Lower Mainland

E-Comm staff take home multiple national awards for emergency communications

Vancouver, B.C. – The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) Canada has named E-Comm the recipient of two national awards – Trainer of the Year and the Teamwork Award – for exemplary efforts in emergency communications through a challenging year for the organization in 2021.

Each year, at the APCO Canada Conference & Tradeshow, a number of awards are issued recognizing telecommunicators, technologists, trainers and teams who demonstrate excellence and leadership in their dedication to public safety. Nominees may have used uncommon methods to problem solve during an emergency call, worked as a team to create a solution to an unexpected event, or were instrumental in making a difference in the outcome of a critical incident.

One of E-Comm’s Vancouver Island-based Training Specialists, Nicole Israel, was named APCO’s Trainer of the Year for her work adapting the centre’s training curriculums to include specialized classes designed to teach multiple skillsets simultaneously. This was done in response to a growing need for cross-trained staff as pressures from COVID-19 and the extreme weather events faced across British Columbia led to increased demand for emergency services. Israel went above and beyond to ensure the training programs adhered to adult-learning best practices, including using gamification in her modules, while providing outside-of-the-box opportunities for learners to get real-life experiences with tools and file types in a learning environment.

E-Comm was also presented with the 2022 Teamwork Award for its Operations team’s response to the 2021 heat dome event. In late June, emergency response providers were stretched beyond their limits when the province experienced an unprecedented heat dome where temperatures soared as high as 50 degrees Celsius in some parts of the province.

When temperatures rose, so did calls to 9-1-1, peaking at unprecedented more than 8,000 calls a day during the height of the heat dome. As a consolidated emergency communications centre, E-Comm handles 99 per cent of 9-1-1 calls in B.C., with 9-1-1 call takers immediately transferring callers to the emergency response agency of request. However, during this extended tragic and heart-breaking crisis, 9-1-1 call takers waited on the line for extended periods with callers in distress as the BC Ambulance Service was overwhelmed by the heightened demand. In some instances, E-Comm call takers stayed on the line listening to multiple people pass during one shift. Despite this, staff found the courage, resilience and perseverance to come back and do it all again each day during the crisis – all in the name of public safety.

All members of the Operations team worked tirelessly, 24 hours a day, throughout the heat event to support the overwhelmed ambulance service. The level of coordinated effort was extraordinary and required unique problem-solving skills and work-around processes to support public safety, many of which remain in place today.

Award winners and presenters on stage smiling for camera at APCO Canada awards ceremony.

Award winners and presenters on stage smiling for camera at APCO Canada awards ceremony.

APCO’s Trainer of the Year Nicole is accepting the award on stage at APCO Canada.

APCO’s Trainer of the Year Nicole is accepting the award on stage at APCO Canada.

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About E-Comm 9-1-1

E-Comm 9-1-1 is the first point of contact for 9-1-1 callers in 25 regional districts in British Columbia and provides dispatch services for more than 70 police agencies and fire departments across the province. E‐Comm also owns and operates the largest multi‐jurisdictional, tri‐service, wide‐area radio network in the province used by police, fire and ambulance personnel throughout Metro Vancouver and parts of the Fraser Valley.

 

Media Contacts

E-Comm
604-215-6248
media@ecomm911.ca

E-Comm sees nearly 105% more requests for interpretation service on 9-1-1

British Columbia is currently the most ethnically diverse province in Canada. In fact, last year alone we welcomed 67,141 immigrants to the province. According to the Government of British Columbia, this marks the second highest level of international immigration to BC on record. This might explain why E-Comm received 3,418 calls requesting interpretation services on 9-1-1 in 2021, nearly 105 per cent more requests than in 2020.

Of these calls, 31 per cent were requests for interpretation in Mandarin, 29 per cent Punjabi and 16 per cent Cantonese.

October is Global Diversity Month and E-Comm wants to empower communities across the province to call 9-1-1 to get the help that they need in an emergency—no matter what language they speak.

Do you want to #HelpUsHelp ensure that everyone is equipped to get help from emergency service providers? Watch the video below from E-Comm’s Report Agent Yung to learn more how you can educate your non-English speaking friends and family members about calling 9-1-1.

Note: Yung shares her tips in English and Cantonese.

“Policing offers a lot of everything, under one umbrella”

Interview with Constable Holly Christie, VPD for National Police Woman Day

Cst. Holly Christie posing beside a VPD police car at 2120 Cambie Headquarters

Cst. Holly Christie posing beside a police car at VPD’s Cambie Headquarters

“Once you make the decision to apply to be a police officer, dive in and fully commit. Remember that everyone brings something unique to the table. Be proud of who you are, recognize what things you might have to work on and get going! Your persistence will pay off.” Constable Holly Christie recommends to women who are aspiring to become police officers.

In celebration of National Police Woman Day (September 12), we interviewed Constable Holly Christie, a long-serving police officer for the Vancouver Police Department. Throughout her career in policing, Christie has held various positions in different units ranging from community policing, problem-oriented policing, traffic unit, and diversity section to the public affairs section as well as planning research and audit section. After a brief stint in the recruiting unit, she is now back to patrol in District 3 where she is also busy engaging with the public on a more personal level using her #VPD Twitter handle. Christie is married and has a 17-year-old son and two dogs. In her spare time, Christie loves spending time with her family, spinning, photography and last but not least, enjoying good coffee!

She gave us a first-hand account of being a policewoman and a few insights into the progress of gender equality in policing.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

You have been a police officer for 20 years. Why did you want to become a police officer?

I became a police officer because I liked the idea of being out and about in communities. I love to drive and the idea of having the opportunity to work several jobs within one career always interested me.

Please describe a moment that filled you with pride serving as a police officer in Vancouver.

This moment would be the 2010 Olympics. I loved helping show off our awesome city!

What support services are available for women at Vancouver PD?

We have several members that work in a peer support capacity as well as officers and civilians that volunteer their time to support anyone needing it at all hours, 24/7 365 days a year. BC Women in Law Enforcement is a non-profit organization that women (police officers and civilian employees) can tap into, that helps strengthen, unite and promote women in law enforcement from all over.

Where have you seen improvements when it comes to gender equality in policing, and where do you still see room for growth?
There is always room for growth in policing and any organization for that matter, as things are continuously changing in our world. A recent initiative with regard to gender equality was the #VPD facilitating a recruiting information session for members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community. This is ongoing.

The relationship between a dispatcher and officers is critical during an emergency response. How do E-Comm’s dispatchers and call takers impact your work as a police officer?
Our relationship is imperative to our safety and the public’s safety.  The information call takers receive and relay to dispatchers for us to respond to is like a puzzle. Everyone in this equation is trying to get as many pieces as they can to try and put the story together, so we can help people. It is definitely a team effort and we learn from each other as well.

What are some challenges that you face as a woman in policing?
We are well supported with so much. Childcare issues I believe can still be challenging at times, not just for women, but all people that are parents on our job.

What ideas do you have in mind for the future of policing?
More mental health-supported units roving the city (police and nurses), more options for police to help in the referral process for individuals that are addicted and are seeking treatment.

How will you celebrate National Policy Woman Day today?
I will celebrate two ways: By giving a “shout out” to the police women I work with, those that have paved the way, and I’ll remind all young people to go after what makes them happy and what intrigues them in life. Policing offers a lot of everything, under one umbrella!

Is there anything else you’d like to share on this National Police Woman Day?
Yes, there is! – Thank you to ALL the police women all over the world, we ARE helping make a difference! Happy National Police Woman Day!

National Police Woman Day is an annual celebration dedicated to honouring women in policing. For a long time, women had little to no representation in the police force and National Police Woman Day celebrates the contributions of women in law enforcement and the progress they have made through better representation.

Cst. Holly Christie with little girl in policewoman costume

Cst. Holly Christie with little girl in policewoman costume

Cst. Holly Christie enjoying a road trip

Cst. Holly Christie enjoying a road trip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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