Prov­ince-wide 911 is a great idea

The Compass - - OPINION -

Af­ter many years of de­bate and re­search, it was fi­nally an­nounced last week that the provin­cial govern­ment will be ex­pand­ing 911 emer­gency com­mu­ni­ca­tions ser­vice through­out the en­tire prov­ince. It’s about time. By the end of 2014, any­one with a tele­phone will be able to sum­mon emer­gency help by di­al­ing 911. Also en­cour­ag­ing is the fact the prov­ince will work to im­ple­ment a more ad­vanced “Next Gen­er­a­tion 911” fur­ther into the fu­ture, which keeps pace with the chang­ing meth­ods of com­mu­nic a t i o n s a n d data trans­fer, in­clud­ing text mes­sag­ing.

This should be wel­come news to ev­ery­one, whether you are an emer­gency re­spon­der such as a vol­un­teer fire­fighter, a home­owner or an am­bu­lance at­ten­dant. It ap­pears we are fi­nally about to catch up to much of the rest of Canada and North Amer­ica. We de­serve noth­ing less.

This im­por­tant ser­vice has proven it­self to be ef­fec­tive at sav­ing lives and pro­tect­ing prop­erty. The provin­cial govern­ment should be com­mended for tak­ing a me­thod­i­cal and at­ten­tive ap­proach to this de­ci­sion, and mak­ing the right call by hir­ing a rep­utable con­sult­ing firm to carry out a fea­si­bil­ity study.

Cur­rently, about 40 per cent of the prov­ince is cov­ered by a ba­sic 911 ser­vice, with so-called pub­lic safety an­swer­ing sta­tions op­er­ated by the St. John’s Re­gional Fire Depart­ment, RNC and RCMP. The cov­er­age area does not in­clude the Trin­ity Con­cep­tion re­gion, though ba­sic 911 is avail­able through­out the prov­ince from mo­bile phones, as long as a cel­lu­lar sig­nal can be ac­cessed.

In an­nounc­ing the new sys­tem, it was stated that mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and oth­ers will have a role to play in im­ple­ment­ing the sys­tem across the prov­ince.

We see two ar­eas that will re­quire im­prove­ment. First, home and busi­ness own­ers have to get more se­ri­ous about plac­ing civic num­bers promi­nently on their prop­er­ties. And se­condly, co-or­di­na­tion be­tween neigh­bour­ing vol­un­teer fire brigades will have to be im­proved to en­sure prompt and ef­fi­cient re­sponses to emer­gen­cies.

We en­cour­age all towns and emer­gen­cies re­spon­ders in this re­gion to get fully be­hind this worth­while ini­tia­tive.

We see two ar­eas that

will re­quire im­prove­ment. First, home and busi­ness own­ers have to get more se­ri­ous about plac­ing civic num­bers promi­nently on their

prop­er­ties.

— Terry Roberts

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