By Cole Parkinson
With 9-1-1 hangups still causing problems for the Taber/Vauxhall RCMP detachment, members are hoping to continue to educate people on how to best handle the situation.
During the Municipal District of Taber’s regular council meeting on October 9, councillors were brought up to speed on how the RCMP were handling 9-1-1 hangups. Over the month of September, they had 26 hang-ups and five false alarms while July and August saw 23 hangups each.
Council questioned how much time is spent discerning real 9-1-1 calls and accidental calls.
“If they are investigated properly, which we do, what happens is unless you can get somebody on the line and are 100 per cent satisfied that there is no emergency, you have to go out to it, regardless of where it is. It does take a bit more of our time but the members are doing as much education as they can,” said Sgt. Gord Yetman.
During every RCMP delegation, a monthly RCMP report is given to councillors detailing detachment calls and 9-1-1 hang-ups are listed.
While both council and the Taber/Vauxhall detachment have been adamant in their quest to diminish the amount of 9-1-1 hangups in the region, the issue has continued to persist.
One of the biggest messages the RCMP is trying to get out to the community is to not give kids deactivated cellphones as they can still make 9-1-1 calls.
“We tell people to not give their kids deactivated cellphones because they can still dial 9-1-1. A lot of people don’t necessarily heed that warning because we have had repeat offenders as well, so it is something you have to keep chipping away at,” continued Yetman.
Council questioned what the best process would be if an accidental call was made.
“I know a lot of people if they accidentally call 9-1-1 they hang up right away. Is it better for them to stay on?” asked Coun. Leavitt Howg.
While some may think it would be better to hang up before the call was answered, Yetman says the best practice is to stay on the line.
“Absolutely because what it does is, now the 9-1-1 call centre is able to make contact with somebody verbally. All the person has to do is say ‘I’m sorry I dialled 9-1-1 by accident’. They are still going to ask you questions and make sure that they aren’t dealing with an actual emergency or it is not somebody under duress. We’ll still get dispatched to it but if we are fairly confident it is not a duress situation, in all likelihood, we will dial the person up and say ‘what’s going on?’ and they’ll explain what happened. Then it is up to the member if they are going to go out and it boils down to a judgement call. Sometimes it is fairly easy to tell if someone is under duress,” he said. “It is a good practice to stay on the line until a 9-1-1 operator answers you and then just explain what is going on. Everyone in emergencies services is aware that misdials happen.”