FAQs – PSAP Service Delivery

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) – PSAP Service Delivery
What has changed with 9-1-1 call answering for the north island?

The North Island 9-1-1 (NI911) Corporation has entered into an agreement with E-Comm for 9-1-1 call answering services. Previously, the Corporation contracted with the RCMP, which provided personnel at the Courtenay detachment to perform the 9-1-1 call answering service. 

The Campbell River fire department had been providing fire dispatch for the north island. Has that changed?

No. Along with the agreement for E-Comm to provide 9-1-1 call answering, the NI911 Corporation will continue to have fire dispatch services provided by the Campbell River fire department.

How does the call answering system work?

With the system, known as the public safety answering point or PSAP, a 9-1-1 operator takes the call at the E-Comm emergency communication centre, and then transfers the call to a secondary safety answering point – fire, police or ambulance – to be dispatched. 

Was the system not working with the RCMP providing PSAP services?

The system worked very well for years. In 2013, the operators handled almost 63,000 calls for help, and each year, delivering the 9-1-1 service is becoming more complex – accidentally emergency dialing from cell phones, increasing number of abandoned calls, global social media alerts – and RCMP dispatch had been required to “bolster” the PSAP call answerers. The RCMP completed a core review and advised the NI911 Corporation that a new cost allocation model would need to be created if it was to continue the service. The new model would have meant an annual cost to the NI911 Corporation of $731,856 -- an increase of over $250,000 per year. 

What is the cost of the agreement with E-Comm?

The cost is $2,003,510 over a five year term, and is approximately $1.7 million less than it would have been under the new agreement with the RCMP. 

Were there any other ways the PSAP 9-1-1 call answering can be provided, and still maintain the high level of service that we now have?

The NI911 Corporation 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 a sustainable model. The analysis looked at maintaining the status quo, developing a stand-alone NI911 Corporation call answer centre, having Campbell River provide PSAP and fire dispatch, having E-Comm provide PSAP and fire dispatch, or having a two-contract model – one with the City of Campbell River and one with E-Comm for PSAP. The analysis looked at current and future cost increases facing the service, efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery. 

9-1-1 Call Answer and Fire Dispatch Options Analysis: North Island 9-1-1 POMAX final report

What about ambulance dispatch?

Ambulances are dispatched by BC Ambulance Service through a centre in Victoria. They are contacted by a PSAP operator who takes the initial 9-1-1 call. 

Was the review just about the costs the RCMP model would require, or were there other reasons you looked at different options?

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the RCMP expired in March 2014, which made it an opportune time to review service delivery. In addition to the potential for increased costs to the NI911 Corporation – which are costs borne by the taxpayers of the area served --- there are several trends and factors that might have had an impact on the long term sustainability of the current service delivery model.

What kinds of “trends and factors” might impact the way the service had been delivered?

They include things like the high incidence of abandoned 9-1-1 calls, the changes in technology by which people communicate – like text messaging, the fact that the 2012 RCMP core service review identified that 9-1-1 PSAP is not a core service of the force, and the always-increasing industry standards for call answering. The world of customer service and technology is constantly changing, so it is always a good idea to review ways of doing business to ensure that service is being delivered in the most costeffective, efficient way possible. 

What are the “call-taking industry standards”?

The National Emergency Number Association (NENA) standards for call answering are that 90 per cent of all 9-1-1 calls arriving at the PSAP are to be answered within 10 seconds during times of the highest call volumes, and 95 per cent of all 9-1-1 calls are to be answered within 20 seconds during other times. E-Comm has a standard of operation even higher. It’s known as 95/5 – at least 95 per cent of calls are answered within five seconds of the call being received at the call answer centre.  

Are you comfortable with E-Comm, located in Vancouver, providing call answering for those on the north island?

Completely comfortable. E-Comm provides PSAP 9-1-1 call answering for the NI911 Corporation, the Metro Vancouver region and 25 other regional districts in B.C. E-Comm also provides dispatch services for 36 police and fire departments. They are world-class experts in the field of 9-1-1 call answering, and are fully resourced to take on the service for us.