One month in, new two-tiered 911 service not all it was promised to be: Murphy

NDP FES critic George Murphy

It’s been a month since the province’s new 911 service was introduced, and NDP Fire and Emergency Services Critic George Murphy (MHA, St. John’s East) says the reality of the service is falling far short of government promises.

Service in Labrador has actually been downgraded – the dispatch center in Labrador West has been closed, with calls from the area now routed through Corner Brook. Murphy says the call-taking service in that city is just a short step up from any call centre, and a far cry from 911 service delivered by trained dispatchers. He cites a Labrador case earlier this year where a dispatcher stayed on the phone and saved the lives of a family affected by carbon monoxide poisoning while emergency responders were en route to the cabin they were in.

“Ask any emergency responder and they’ll tell you that the new 911 service in the province is two-tired. There’s a difference between ‘call-taker’ and ‘dispatcher,’” Murphy said in the House of Assembly today.

“Why doesn’t government recognize the failings of the province-wide 911 system as it is at present, and fix it so all have equal dispatch service?”

Murphy says consumers in the province expect and deserve a system that uses dispatchers, not call-takers. He adds that if immediate access to 911 dispatchers is what they are looking for, they should get what they have paid for.

He says the extra 75 cents a month per phone line the government is collecting should have been used to extend true 911 service before starting work on the enhanced 911 service promised for the future.

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