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New 911 system aims to increase number of calls E-Comm operators can take

Change will allow operators to disconnect once a caller is in the ambulance line
(E-Comm 911)

A new system for 911 calls should decrease the amount of time it takes to a person to connect with an operator, E-Comm 911 said in a Wednesday (Nov. 30) afternoon press release.

The agency said that under the old system, the E-Comm operator needed to stay on the line with a caller needing an ambulance until they could be transferred to B.C. Emergency Health Services.

Under the new system, the operator will transfer the caller to the ambulance line and then disconnect, leaving the caller waiting and freeing themselves up to attend to the next person needing help. About 70 per cent of the calls E-Comm handles are not for ambulances, but for urgent fire and police calls.

The agency said the move comes after call wait times for an E-Comm operator increased drastically, up to three minutes or more in early November, along with the amount of time it takes to transfer a caller from E-Comm to the BCEHS.

The province’s entire 911 system has been under fire in recent months after long waits have led to tragic outcomes. In June, a Burnaby senior waited an hour for an ambulance – arranged by BCEHS, not E-Comm – to arrive while she waited with a broken hip, while in August, a man died in Parksville while waiting 31 minutes for an ambulance.

READ MORE: Ambulance response times in question after B.C. woman waits 1 hour with broken hip

READ MORE: B.C. man, 72, dies in home while family waits on hold with 911 dispatch

In July, the province announced it would fund 85 new full-time paramedic positions, 30 full-time dispatchers and 22 ambulances for BCEHS.

READ MORE: B.C. funds 85 new paramedics, 22 ambulances as demand climbs


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