Province-wide 911 system doesn't come without challenges

A province-wide 911 system is on track, but the Minister of Municipal Affairs admits there are still some significant obstacles to overcome.

Newfoundland and Labrador's Municipal Affairs Minister says a plan to bring in a province-wide 911 system is on track, but admits there are still some significant obstacles to overcome.

Most people in the province still don't have 911 service — 60 per cent do not have the service if they call from a cell phone.

Instead, they rely on separate numbers for police, ambulances and fire services, which can prove disastrous when you can't instantly recall the correct number. 

The province plans to bring in a province-wide 911 system by the end of next year.

Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Kent admitted during Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador's convention that system will have one big drawback. 

"Civic addresses in Newfoundland and Labrador are a major challenge and it's one that we're already working on," Kent said.

Some small communities in the province don't have street names, leading to confusion as to where do you dispatch emergency personnel.

Fire chief Vince MacKenzie said the basic 911 service is still 20-year-old technology. 

"When it comes to actual provision of the service itself you are still going to get what you are accustomed to, like in smaller communities. It's not going to increase the speed at which the fire department deploys or firefighters get to the fire station," MacKenzie said. 

According to MacKenzie, the next generation of 911 will use GPS co-ordinates to help locate emergency scenes.

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