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Overload of 911 BC calls causes latency and ambulance delays: Dispatcher

"You are sitting there and wondering what each of the 27 calls is. You may have tripped over and broke your arm. Or maybe you've found a child hanging from a rafter. "

Temperatures in B.C. did not reach heat-dome levels this weekend, but Environment Canada did issue a heat warning for Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley that lasts until Monday. Temperatures in the Fraser Valley were expected to edge into the 30s.
British Columbia temperatures reached heat dome levels this weekend No, but the Canadian Ministry of the Environment issued a thermal warning to Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley. Until Monday. Temperatures in Fraser Valley were expected to reach their thirties.Photo: Arlen Redekop /PNG

Call 911 Emergency Line in British Columbia on Saturday There were people waiting for the ambulance for up to 3 hours. According to the dispatcher, after running a gauntlet with a waiting time of 30 minutes to talk to the person who picks up the phone.

"Today was the worst day I've ever had," he said, saying that up to 27 calls were on hold and couldn't be answered fast enough. The Vancouver dispatcher who explained said.

The posting media agreed not to reveal the dispatcher's name or gender for fear of retaliation for employment. The coordinator said only about 12 people answered 911 calls across the state on Saturday.

More calls to 911 on weekends, especially on sunny days. About a quarter of the Lower Mainland ambulances were unmanned, the dispatcher said.

B.C. Leaderboard The Emergency Medical Services Dispatch Center displayed the number of calls waiting to be answered, as many as 27.

B.C. The Ministry of Health has referred questions to E-Comm 911, a non-profit organization that oversees calling operations, and the State Health Service Department, which is in charge of ambulance services.

E-Comm 911 officials said there was no significant delay over the weekend. The 911 service operated by E-Comm will guide you to the police, fire department and ambulance after receiving your first call. The emergency medical commander answers the emergency call and sends an ambulance.

The State Health Services Department did not immediately answer post-media questions on Sunday.

Troy Clifford, president of British Columbia's paramedic and head of the emergency medical technician, said on Sunday that the recent wait times haven't surged significantly, but weekends and summers. Said that the waiting time is getting longer. Especially when the temperature rises, it is consistent with past experience.

Clifford funded the state to hire more rescue workers and dispatchers following last year's heat dome, but due to burnout and the experience of frontline workers. Said it was difficult to hire staff. Also, wages in other similar areas such as police, fire and nursing are 30 percent higher.

"The problem is in hiring our profession," Clifford said. "We have been lagging behind for the last 20 years so far."

B.C. temperature did not reach heat dome levels this weekend, but the Canadian Ministry of the Environment continues until Monday Metro Issued a heat warningfor Vancouver and Fraser Valley. Temperatures in Fraser Valley were expected to reach the thirties.

Donald Grant, president of British Columbia's emergency communications expert, said there was a slight delay in introducing police calls over the weekend. He also pointed out the shortage of staff and the difficulty of recruiting new callers due to higher work conditions and wages in other areas.

"The waiting time wasn't good," Grant said.

The coordinator who spoke to Postmedia said that long wait times make it difficult to provide the best service. "You sit there and wonder what each of the 27 calls is. You may have tripped over and broke your arm, or you may have found a child hanging from a rafter. Maybe, "said the dispatcher.

The coordinator explained the stress of trying to do the best in difficult situations.

"I don't know what's waiting there. You have that anxiety. You want to do your best for that person over the phone and you can't do it I'm trying to help everyone with.

"I've come to the point where the fire department called us and tried to call us. They just came across things and no one answered. I couldn't go to our dispatch center because they didn't give me a call. The pressure we saw today was that if we experienced another event like the heat dome, the exact same system as last time would collapse. It tells me that you'll see it do. "

On a normal day, the coordinator should be able to answer the person who answers the phone with the first ringing. Yes, the goal is to respond in 98% of the time within 5 seconds.

During last summer's heat dome, the dispatcher said the staff "held together" as the staff rescheduled their vacations and changed their lives to bring the organization to light. rice field. People are reluctant to do it for two years in a row. It is unhealthy to postpone taking a vacation to benefit BC. ambulance. "

In November 2021, the state hired 85 new emergency medical personnel and 65 full-time dispatchers after EHS fired at the heat dome last summer, killing hundreds.

Also, according to B.C. emergency personnel, in 2021, 25% due to PTSD and stress vacations due to the stressful situation faced by ambulance ambulance personnel and dispatchers. Has quit his job. A long-term plan to strengthen mental health support for emergency medical personnel and other first-time responders.

In 2020, 55 units for remote and indigenous communities Additional ambulances and crew were announced and new monitors and defibrillators were purchased for some local ambulances.

However, the coordinator said: Ambulances are parked at the station because no one is answering the phone. The problem of not having enough phone reception, dispatchers, and emergency medical care is not solved. Also, Lower Mainland is a large of all kinds. It also doesn't solve the problem of not having the equipment to handle the event. "

ghoekstra @ postmedia. com

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