Callers to BC 911 Facing ‘Extensive’ Delays Thursday | The Canadian News

British Columbia’s emergency medical system faced new scrutiny Thursday, amid “extensive” delays for callers to 911.

E-Comm, the agency that runs BC’s 911 call centers, took to Twitter multiple times throughout the day to alert callers to the delays.

“We are seeing constant 911 delays this morning as our call takers are tied up transferring calls to the ambulance. If you hear a recorded message, we need you to stay on the line, ”the service posted around 11 a.m. M.

Two hours later, he posted a second warning message that delays were also increasing on police non-emergency lines, as staff prioritized emergency calls.

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At 4:30 p.m. M., E-Comm said 911 callers continued to experience “intermittent wait times” that were “expected to last through the night.”

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E-Comm spokeswoman Kalia Butler told Global News that the delay was due to delays in transferring calls for emergency medical help to the ambulance service.

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“When a caller calls 911 and calls for the ambulance, that call is immediately transferred to BC Emergency Health Services,” he said.

“We’ve seen some significant delays in transferring those calls to BCEHS and of course that means our 911 call takers, waiting on the line with 911 callers, are unable to disconnect and respond to the next call. Call 911. the queue. “

Global News reached out to both BCEHS and the Provincial Health Services Authority, its parent health authority, to inquire about the reason for those delays, but did not receive a response.

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Butler said delays in connecting to ambulance dispatches have been “steadily increasing” in recent months.

“They are consistent and, sadly, they persist,” he said.

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This is not the first time that Global News has reported delays in connecting 911 operators to the ambulance service.

In May, amid another worrying spike in ambulance delays, multiple sources told Global News on a particularly bad day that it was taking ambulance dispatchers up to 10 minutes to take calls from an E-Comm operator. .

When asked about the issue on Thursday, Prime Minister John Horgan said the ongoing twin health crises of the COVID-19 pandemic and the opioid drug crisis had put “extraordinary pressure on frontline workers” .

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“It is not acceptable to the health minister, it is not acceptable to the people of British Columbia,” Horgan said, vowing that Health Minister Adrian Dix would have more to say on a solution in the coming days.

The province pledged to hire hundreds of additional paramedics, and in July announced an ambulance service overhaul in the wake of a heat wave that killed hundreds.

Meanwhile, Butler said it was critical that anyone who calls 911 and receives a recorded message stay on the line and not hang up.

Hanging up and redialing or calling from a second phone only serves to further tie up the lines and exacerbate delays, he said.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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