*Made by your neighbours with help from Vancouver Foundation Neighbourhood Small Grants
Minutes of SRA Meeting
June 3, 2015
UPCOMING EVENTS IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD
June 12: Mariachi Night at the Russian Hall
June 13: Maclean Park Safety Day 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. with info, bike engraving, prizes, and a mini police obstacle course
June 13 - 3rd annual WISH yard sale at 600 Block Heatley
June 14: Hawks Avenue yard sale 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.; come to buy or sell; please remove any items you don't sell by the end of the day
June 19: Reconciliation in Action: Where Change Happens – a community celebration at RayCam Centre 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.; for more info contact firstname.lastname@example.org
June 20: Pub Night at Strathcona Community Centre – in the courtyard!
July 4: 600-block Union Street Potluck Block Party: live band, fire-truck; afternoon; everyone invited!
City launches new planning process for the False Creek Flats, invites public participation; several workshops happening in June; anyone interested in taking part, check out the website vancouver.ca/falsecreekflats
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR THIS SUMMER
Contact the SRA if you see news stories or hear gossip or see social media chatter about issues which might affect the neighbourhood, such as:
-- City plans to remove the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts
-- the relocation of the Carrell Street market to 501 Powell
-- updates on the move of St. Paul's hospital
-- road safety on Prior Street
-- development applications on Hastings Street
-- garbage pick-up in our parks
-- other initiatives by the City
SPECIAL GUEST PRESENTATION:
E-Comm, the people who answer when you call 911
The presenters were Jody Robertson, E-Comm’s Director of Corporate Communications, and Ryan Lawson, the Operations Manager. Jasmine Bradley, Communications Manager at E-Comm, also attended. Their presentation was fascinating.
E-Comm opened in 1999. It is operated and administered by the province and by the municipalities it serves.
E-Comm handles 911 call-answer services for a large part of BC.
In Vancouver and many other municipalities, E-Comm also handles the dispatching of fire and police services.
Answering calls and dispatching services are two different things. E-Comm does not dispatch ambulances; they just hand you over to the dispatcher.
E-Comm also operates a regional radio network for emergency services and provides public safety technology services. More info on that at the end of the minutes.
When you phone 911, the operator who answers will ask you if you need police, fire or ambulance. If you’re not sure, or if you need more than one service (for example, in a car crash, where you might need police and ambulance), the operator will question you to ascertain what kind of help you need. They can coordinate help from more than one service.
E-Comm has access to interpreting services for more than forty languages, so you can phone 911 even if you don’t speak English. There is also a service for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.
E-Comm staff say that if you’re in doubt about whether your situation is an emergency or not, call 911. Better safe than sorry.
Emergencies include situations such as the following:
— someone’s life, safety or property is in danger (e.g. screams, attacks, gunshots, fire, car crash with injuries, other medical emergency)
— when a crime is in progress (e.g. fights, break-and-enter if the suspect is still on the scene, impaired driver)
— when a serious crime, such as a sexual assault or robbery, has just occurred
— when there is a “suspicious circumstance” that may indicate an immediate criminal act (e.g. prowler, vandal)
The 911 operator asks you a lot of questions. First of all, they want to determine if it is an emergency or not. If there is any doubt about the true nature of the call, E-Comm staff must assume it is an emergency and dispatch a response.
The next most important questions from the E-Comm operator are about the location of the emergency, because they need to be able to get to you if your call is cut off.
If you’re calling from a landline, they can tell your address right away, but if you’re calling from a cell-phone, they don’t know where you are. If you hang up, it takes time to get cell-tower info from your wireless company, and then they can only get an approximate location.
They also ask you your name, address and birthdate. You don’t have to tell them all this, but doing so helps them not to mix you up with other people with the same name who also phone 911. E-Comm treats each call as a unique situation, even if it’s from the same caller or the same address.
The 911 operator will ask you to describe the situation, the location and the people involved. You shouldn’t put yourself in danger to answer these questions (for example, by going too close to a crime-in-progress), but the more info you can give, the more it helps the response.
If the operator determines that your call is not an emergency, they will tell you to phone the non-emergency number, or another service, depending on what they think you need.
When you phone 911, your call doesn't go on the same pathway as other phone calls. It goes through fast, dedicated trunk lines that pre-empt all other phone traffic in the system. Since there are a limited number of these dedicated lines, they need to be kept free for emergencies.
That's why if you accidentally dial 911 (for example, a pocket dial), you shouldn't just hang up. Stay on the line to assure the operator that you're okay. Only an E-Comm operator can "release" the dedicated line, and they don't do that until they're sure it's not an emergency.
The same E-Comm personnel who answer 911 calls also handle calls to the non-emergency number. An automatic call distribution system sorts and routes all calls coming in so that the 911 calls are answered first.
Therefore, if you call in a non-emergency (for example, "I came home from work and found that my house was broken into"), and it turns into an emergency after an E-Comm operator has answered (“Holy sh**, the burglar is still in the house!”), the same operator can continue handling the call.
But, if you call the non-emergency number, and your situation turns into an emergency BEFORE E-Comm has answered, you should hang up and dial 911. Your call then goes through the dedicated line and gets answered first and fastest.
A surprising number of people phone 911 with non-emergencies (including “What time is it?”). There are also a lot of hoax calls, including so-called “swatting” calls, in which someone pretends there is a violent event which requires a police SWAT team. Even with lots of questioning, it’s difficult to pick out the hoaxers. And when in doubt, it’s treated as an emergency.
E-Comm only needs a couple pieces of info in order to initiate a call-out by police. Their “horizontal” or “parallel” dispatch system enables a central dispatcher to monitor your call with the operator and feed information to the police or fire-fighters en route.
The Vancouver Police Department’s policies on the prioritization of calls determines how fast your call will be responded to by police. That’s not E-Comm’s responsibility.
Non-emergency calls for police are also “dispatch-able”; they just take longer to arrive, depending on what priority VPD has given them and how busy they are at the time.
E-Comm answered 390,000 calls in 2014. Of that number, 69% are for police, 27% for ambulance, and 5% for fire.
E-Comm meets all of the targets it sets for itself. For example, they aim to answer 95% of 911 calls in five seconds or less (the time it takes for two rings), and they get 97%, the highest rate of any 911 service in North America. They also meet their goal of answering 80% of non-emergency calls in three minutes or less. Only 20% of non-emergency callers wait more than three minutes.
OTHER E-Comm SERVICES
E-Comm also operates a regional radio system, the largest in the country, that enables police and fire personnel responding to an emergency to talk to each other "in real time."
Background: The 1994 hockey riot got so bad that police and fire personnel from other cities (Richmond, Burnaby) had to be called in to help but, since all their radios worked on different frequencies, they couldn't talk to each other during the event. E-Comm was founded to enable all emergency response people to talk to each other during an emergency.
The E-Comm presenters left a number of leaflets describing their services. These are available at the front desk of the community centre.
You can visit their website at E-Comm911.ca
for more info or to email them questions.