911 service goes private

The RCMP will be relieved of 911 call answering services and a private company will take on that share of the responsibility.

COMOX—The RCMP will be relieved of 911 call answering services and a private company will take on that share of the responsibility, following a study of options for emergency call-taking and fire dispatch by the North Island 911 Corporation.

The Corporation’s board of directors voted to contract with E-Comm for 911 call answering services, and to continue to have fire dispatch services provided by the Campbell River fire department.

The Corporation had hired Pomax, a firm providing independent consulting expertise to public safety and public service organizations since 1996, to undertake an analysis of the options for 911 call answering after the RCMP, which had provided that primary call answering service, advised that it was not part of the force’s core business and that the price would be going up.

The analysis looked at current and future cost increases facing the service, efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery.  There were no concerns with the performance of the existing contracted service providers – RCMP and Campbell River fire department.

“This is probably the most profound decision this board will ever make,” said North Island 911 Corporation president Jon Ambler. “This is an operational business and in some cases the operations involve life and death. E-Comm has proven strength in primary call answering for 911, and Campbell River Fire Department has proven strength in fire dispatch. Both organizations are operationally ready, right now, to provide these vital services for our citizens and visitors.”

The cost of the new model for the “public safety answering point” (PSAP) 9-1-1 call answering will be $2,003,510 over a five year period, approximately $1.7 million less than it would have been under a new agreement with the RCMP.

The new model is anticipated to take effect in the fall of 2014, with the agreement covering a five year period, able to be renewed. The previous contract with the RCMP expired in March 2014.

The North Island 911 Corporation was established in 1995, and manages the provision of 9-1-1 to the regional districts of Comox Valley, Strathcona, Mt. Waddington and Alberni-Clayoquot, Powell River and a portion of the Nanaimo Regional District. The Comox Valley Regional District provides administrative services for the corporation.