The Board of Directors of the North Island 911 Corporation has elected Larry Samson as their new president and re-elected Joe Stanhope as vice president for the emergency communications oversight group.
The corporation was established in January of 1995 and manages 911 services for the Comox Valley Regional District, Strathcona Regional District, Regional District of Mount Waddington, Alberni-Clayoquot, as well as a School District No. 69 a portion of the Nanaimo Regional District.
The group’s area of operations sees as many as 70,000 911 calls a year.
Most recently the corporation green lit a contract for the initial point of answering to E-comm, which is the first point of contact for those in need of emergency assistance.
E-comm determines the type of emergency response required and transfers calls accordingly.
“When you dial 911 that call immediately goes to E-Comm in Vancouver and from there they will ask you police, fire, or ambulance. If you say police it goes to Courtenay RCMP dispatch. If you say fire it goes to Campbell River fire dispatch and if you say ambulance it goes to Victoria ambulance dispatch. So what the North Island 911 is responsible for is ensuring dispatching on the North Island meets the recognized international standards for answering and dispatching,” Samson said.
Samson, who was elected at the corporation’s Feb. 6 inaugural meeting, replacing John Ambler, says he is humbled by the results of the unanimous election.
“There are about 65,000 – 70,000 emergency calls that come out of this area that this Corporation oversees, so its quite an important component. Because nothing is more important that when someone needs assistance the system works. We are very proud of our system because it does work,” Samson said.
Samson currently divides his time between city council in Campbell River, the Strathcona Regional District, Committee of the Whole, and the Municipal Services Committee. Samson was nominated for the position by the Director of the Regional District of Nanaimo Joe Stanhope.
Stanhope represents electoral area G of the Nanaimo Regional District of which he is board chair.
“I was nominated by the director from the Regional District of Nanaimo and it was unanimous, so I was quite pleased and humbled by it and thank the directors,” said Samson.
Samson says he looks forward to serving the corporation and the residents that it represents with enthusiasm, and tackling the ever-changing challenges that the mountainous region faces, including the move towards alternative methods of accessing emergency response through text messaging and internet-based communication devices.
“You will be able to do it through text messaging. You will also be able to do it over the internet with your computer. As you can probably imagine the technology is changing rapidly,” said Samson.
Another push for the corporation will be the potential inclusion of Lasqueti Island under their watch. Lasqueti Island is off the east coast of Vancouver Island in the Strait of Georgia, and is part of the Powell River Regional District. Powell River itself was made a part of the group in 1999.