A lot has happened at a global level since the final edition of e-communiqué, E-Comm’s previous external newsletter, was published almost three years ago. At that time, we announced E-Comm’s strategic plan, (a)SPIRE 2025, focused on resiliency and innovation. It was intentionally created to be flexible so our organisation could adapt its priorities based on the changing landscapes directly impacting the field of public safety, like those we have experienced over the past few years.

Together, British Columbia’s emergency services community has navigated a multi-year global pandemic, new pressures on policing in our communities caused by changing social dynamics and huge strain on emergency health and rescue services resulting from extreme weather events. There is no denying that it has been a trying time for our organisation, as well as for our first responder partners and the public who rely on emergency services to be available when they need them.

Last year, E-Comm received more than 2 million calls from British Columbians needing emergency assistance from police, fire or ambulance—the highest call volume we have seen in our almost 23 year history. These volumes reflect both the increasing demand on emergency services across B.C. and of the changing complexity of the emergencies being responded to.

E-Comm’s mission is to deliver exceptional emergency communications to both the public and to first responders. There were times in 2021 where our 9-1-1 call-answer and police call-taking services did not live up to these high standards—particularly in the Lower Mainland where we continue to suffer from staffing and funding shortages.

The work of our staff is critical to the safety of British Columbians and our first responder partners. And this work cannot stop while we determine the longer term path forward through these service level and resourcing challenges. Instead, our dedicated team of emergency communications professionals must remain focused on getting B.C.’s public the help they need in the short term from police, fire and ambulance, while leadership focuses on the broader business transformation required to stabilize the organisation.

At the same time, E-Comm’s board and leadership team acknowledge a need to evolve our operations to meet the increased demands being placed on our organisation. This work is well underway, and extensive reviews of our service delivery model and police communications operations have been conducted. Investments are being made to increase the capacity of our emergency communications centres, both through recruitment of new staff and by finding new ways to answer calls from the public to get them the help they need. Our commitment is to provide the best possible service to the communities we serve, and together, we will continue to work with our partner agencies to ensure we achieve this commitment.

This new bi-annual E-Comm Insider newsletter will serve as one of the many ways we keep you apprised of these strategic activities headed into the future. I look forward to keeping you informed and providing further updates in the issues to come.

Oliver Grüter-Andrew,
President & CEO