For the second year in a row, city staff are proposing to spend just over $ 50,000 on emergency care dispatch software in the City of Yellowknife’s draft budget.
The 57 pages document, released last week, sets aside $ 53,000 for dispatch software “to ensure consistent high quality of service for everyone.”
The software is designed to provide a live directed guide to navigate various types of medical emergencies and direct the caller in real time. The software would replace the current process of referencing a paper filing cabinet to determine the appropriate emergency response, or dispatchers operating from memory.
In the event of an emergency, residents of Yellowknife can call either 911 – operated by the Government of the Northwest Territories Department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA) – or local municipal prefixes plus 2222 to reach dispatchers directly. fire or ambulance.
“Vital” calls that arrive at 2222 are transferred to 911, which is equipped to provide instructions over the phone and transfer emergency calls to municipal fire divisions and the RCMP.
“Negative effect” on fire response times
Although the Yellowknife Fire Division has its own dispatchers, the city’s 2022 budget proposal indicates that NWT911 has assumed the role of both a response point and a dispatcher for emergency, medical and fire services. in Yellowknife.
City staff write that “the current approach causes persistent problems with the way information is transmitted to emergency service providers and has had a negative effect on fire department response times.”
Instead of transferring callers directly to the fire division dispatcher, as it does with the RCMP, NWT911 interviews callers and makes response recommendations to municipal dispatchers based on the information gathered.
“Due to a lack of information at the time of sending,” write city staff, city dispatchers “resort to treating all calls as emergencies and turning on all lights and sirens every time. call”.
One of the reasons NWT911 is reluctant to forward emergency medical services calls directly to the city, on budget, is that the city’s Public Safety Communication Center does not currently have software to distribution of emergency medical services.
“Many of the same resources”: Alty
Last year, the same software was proposed in the draft budget, but ultimately rejected in council deliberations.
In a previous interview with CBC News, Mayor Rebecca Alty said the service would be redundant with the territory-run 911 services that residents of Yellowknife already pay with their taxes.
“I’m not sure we need to provide the same service as 911, and that’s what I see us doing with this duplication,” she said.
“Every month I pay for 911, and my GNWT taxes pay for that, so adding my municipal taxes to pay for the same service is just the same resources. “
Alty declined to comment on this year’s repeated proposal ahead of Yellowknife City Council deliberations beginning Dec.6, 2021.
The budget says the city is entering into discussions with MACA “to address these issues and to come to an agreement on a process that will ensure the best possible service is provided to residents of Yellowknife.”
Asked about the discussions and the city’s claim that the current distribution approach is causing “permanent problems,” MACA general affairs director Jennifer Young said it would not be appropriate for the territorial government comments on municipal plans and operations.
She said “MACA continues to work with communities, including the City of Yellowknife, to improve public safety and emergency services.”