Vancouver – Stunned is the word being used by 9-1-1 call dispatchers who have been informed that, effective today, 9-1-1 Operators transferring calls to the ambulance service will no longer be waiting on the line with the caller until ambulance dispatchers pick up – a wait that can be many minutes long.
“This decision goes against everything we’ve been trained to do, and every common-sense approach to 9-1-1 service delivery,” says CUPE Local 8911 President Donald Grant. “Until now, our operators have never disconnected before voice contact is made, because our role is to ensure that critical information isn’t lost during the transfer.”
In its media release, E-Comm said that the change will “free up” call-takers to handle more incoming emergency calls more quickly. But Grant says, this amounts to a stop gap measure when what is urgently required is an immediate infusion of funding support from local governments and development of a new funding model to avoid catastrophic failure. A recent report commissioned by E-Comm by Price Waterhouse Coopers concluded that the organization cannot be successful with an understaffed system, suggesting the current roster of 153 full-time call takers needs to increase by 125 to meet operational demands.
E-Comm further stated that the decision was necessary because 9-1-1 call-takers are not medically trained or authorized to give medical advice.
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