It’s been a very busy three months since our last issue of e-communiqué and there is much to report on.

I’d like to begin with a few comments on the late-summer windstorm that swept Metro Vancouver and the impact it had on 9-1-1. The August 29 storm resulted in mass calling over a compressed period of time. I’m proud of how hard our staff worked to answer the calls, and their efforts to transfer them as quickly as possible to the agencies those callers were requesting. Our 9-1-1 centre, like all emergency services, was inundated.

But we were able to increase our resources very quickly due to our consolidated approach and the dedication of our staff.

It is important, though, that we take opportunities such as this to review how the 9-1-1 network is configured overall and the protocols that are used during mass calling events to ensure the most effective service possible. I am pleased to report that work is already well underway. 9-1-1 is a partnership that includes E-Comm, TELUS, fire, police and ambulance services and the public, each with a role to play in its effectiveness. I am confident that the teams that have been formed to look at ways to enhance the technology and operational protocols that support 9-1-1 will help advance our collective goal of public safety. Recognizing that the public also has a huge role to play in understanding how to use 9-1-1, we will also look to increasing our education efforts around when to call 9-1-1 and when not to, and to reinforce the critical message of how important personal preparedness is. Because telecommunications and power outages are to be expected during major weather events and other naturally occurring events, such as earthquakes. 

In other E-Comm news, I’m happy to report a significant milestone was achieved over the summer when our staff made the first broadcast over the new regional radio system. It is exciting to see this major technology initiative progress so deftly, given its complexity and expedited timeframe. You can read more about the Next Generation Radio Program initiative in our cover story.

I am also very pleased to report that in March, we will be welcoming a new police dispatch partner to our organization: the Delta Police Department (DPD). DPD is a long-time user of the E-Comm radio system and we currently provide dispatch services for this community’s fire-rescue services. I look forward to welcoming this community-focused department to E-Comm and to keeping e-communiqué readers posted on the transition.

And speaking of transitions, we are in the final preparation stages for welcoming Central Vancouver Island’s 9-1-1 Primary Public Safety Answer Point (PSAP) services to E-Comm on November 17 and we continue to work on the transition of the Upper Fraser Valley’s PSAP service in January.

Since this is our last issue of 2015, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of our readers a safe and healthy holiday season and all the best in 2016.