Nfld. & Labrador

Basic 911 won't speed up response time, fire chief says

The Newfoundland and Labrador government's plan to have a province-wide basic 911 system in place by 2014 won't lead to faster response times, some firefighters warn.

Education for using system will be vital, according to Vince MacKenzie of Grand Falls-Windsor

The Newfoundland and Labrador government’s plan to have a province-wide basic 911 system in place by 2014 won't lead to faster response times, some firefighters warn.

They fear that with 911 calls being routed to St. John's, some operators won't be familiar with the smaller communities — a situation that could cause delays.

Firefighters from around the province were in St. John's over the weekend for an annual conference.

The Newfoundland and Labrador government plans to institute province-wide basic 911 service by 2014. (CBC)

Vince MacKenzie, the fire chief in Grand Falls-Windsor, says education will be crucial. 

"[Basic] 911 will not speed up emergency services, as they presently exist, past the call-taking procedure," MacKenzie said.

"People when they dial 911 lots of times they expect, number one, that the operator will know exactly where they are, just automatically, which is not going to be the case for basic 911, and also that the fire service, for example, will get there quicker. But in many cases the fire service comes from another community so they're not going to speed up anything."

According to the government, about 40 per cent of the province is currently covered by basic 911 service.

There will be little cost to extend that level of service.

The province plans to move towards a more advanced 911 system in the future, although no deadline has been set for that to happen.

Enhanced 911 service will provide operators with the ability to see the telephone number and address of the caller on their computer screens.

The government plans a progress report on its expansion of 911 service by the end of the year.

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