Wednesday July 6, 2011
It It A Real Emergency?
9-1-1 operators overwhelmed with non-emergency calls during slide
Released by Chilliwack UFRD RCMP Cst Tracy Wolbeck/File photo
Wednesday June 29, 2011, Hope, BC experienced a mudslide that closed Highway
#1 in both directions for several hours. Traffic was backed up as far as
Langley and travelers on the highway were concerned. As a result, a
significant number of calls were placed to the Upper Fraser Valley RCMP's
communication center for well over six hours. These calls came in on the
RCMP non-emergency line as well as 9-1-1.
"We certainly understand the frustration in being stuck in traffic for a long time," said Communications Manager Shelley Mercer. "Our concern comes when our 9-1-1 call takers are so inundated with non-emergency calls that the potential is there for a time delay in getting to legitimate 9-1-1 emergency calls." Although this did not happen during this incident and all 9-1-1 calls were answered quickly, police want to urge the public to listen to the radio for updates when significant events like this one occur.
"When an incident like the mudslide happens, our first priority is public safety," said Cst. Tracy Wolbeck. "We were aware that the highway was closed and it was causing significant problems for travelers and commuters." "Our best advise to the public in those cases is to listen to the radio while in your vehicle for any updates." "We do our best to keep the public updated as to what is going on and the radio is the best medium to access that information."
RCMP place a high priority on opening the highway as soon as possible when incidents of this nature occur. "We understand the concerns for the people in traffic but we really want to encourage the public to utilize every option available before calling the Communication Center," said Cst. Tracy Wolbeck.
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