Two-tiered 911 system puts people in jeopardy, says Murphy

NDP FES critic George Murphy

The NDP critic for Fire and Emergency Services says the province’s new 911 system has resulted in two-tiered service. George Murphy (MHA, St. John’s East) says there is a vast difference between a trained 911 dispatcher and a call-taker.

A dispatcher can use her or his experience and training to give advice to callers while they wait for emergency responders, as happened in one case in February in Labrador West. A call-taker simply forwards the emergency call to the appropriate responder in a given community. The section of the northeast Avalon which has always had dispatchers rather than call-takers has that service. One individual may even be required to act as either call-takers or dispatchers, depending on what municipality the call comes from, and the dispatch agreements that town has with the answering point.

“Documents related to the operations of the new 911 service in the province reinforce the term ‘two-tiered.’ There’s a distinct difference between a call taker and a dispatcher,” Murphy said in the House of Assembly today.

“I ask the minister: why the two tiered set-up of 911?”

Murphy questions the fairness of everyone paying the increased fees of 75 cents per month for every phone in the province, while not everyone received the same service.

Indeed, he says, residents of Labrador have seen their service downgraded and moved out of their region to Corner Brook.

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