The City of Calgary's response to a 911 call from an internet phone that was initially routed to another city 'were timely and completely appropriate,' says a city review of the death of 18-month-old Elijah Luck.

The review, released Friday, found that while the Luck family had provided their Alberta address to their internet service provider, the 911 call they made on April 29 was first routed to Mississauga, Ont., where the family used to live.

Calgary emergency services did not receive a request for help until a second call was placed from a neighbour's landline.

Once the call was received, the city's emergency services responded in "a timely and urgent" manner, the city said in a release.

The city found there were no areas under municipal control that needed to be changed in order to prevent another botched emergency response.

"Processes and actions within control and on behalf of the City of Calgary were timely and completely appropriate," the city said in a release. "The city was unable to identify areas within its control that could be modified or improved upon to prevent this from reoccurring."

Possible 911 limitations using VoIP

  • Call may be patched to the wrong 911 centre or a non-emergency line causing a response delay.
  • If a caller is unable to speak, or if the call is disconnected, the operator may not have automatic location information.
  • Power failure or disrupted internet connection can disconnect access to 911 service.
  • VoIP services do not have to enlist the use of interpretation services that exist in cities like Calgary, Toronto or Vancouver.

Source: City of Toronto

The city's review is one of several launched following the death of the Calgary toddler. A family member tried to call 911 using the home's voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) phone service after Elijah was found unconscious and not breathing, but the call was not patched through to Calgary's emergency centre.

Instead, service provider Comwave, working from the last address the company had on file, routed the call to Mississauga, Ont., and an ambulance was dispatched to the Luck family's former home.

The family said they waited for more than half an hour before they used a neighbour's land line to call 911 again, and an ambulance arrived less than six minutes later. Elijah died at the Alberta Children's Hospital.

While the city's response was deemed appropriate, the city said it would work on an information campaign to teach the public about the limits of 911 connectivity over internet phones and try to work with the industry to improve 911 responses to calls placed using VoIP.

VoIP services allow calls to be made using a computer microphone or a conventional phone with a USB attachment.

The city is urging Calgarians to ask their telecommunications providers how they handle emergencies. It said people should not make test 911 calls, as this would result in an overload to the city's call centre.

Additionally, Calgary said it will actively participate in continuing investigations. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the Ontario government and internet service provider Comwave are still investigating.