911 failure needs to be investigated

Kamloops Daily News
November 6, 2012 01:00 AM

Being able to reach help in an emergency by calling 911 is something we take for granted and are taught to do from a young age.

Just last month, the B.C. Ambulance Service highlighted the importance of parents ensuring their young children know how to do this, providing the example of a call received by dispatchers from a four-year-old.

His mother had fainted and despite not knowing his address, the child reached to 911 and the paramedics reached the woman and took her to hospital.

"Such a simple scenario that could have gone so wrong," the press release said.

Knowing how to dial for grownups is a no-brainer but no one figures they won't be able to access help via 911 amid a crisis. That is what happened, however, to a Kamloops family of six on the weekend.

A fire that started on the exterior of their rental home quickly spread and those who tried to call 911 about it received messages stating circuits were busy.

"I just sat in the middle of my street watching my house burn . . ." said mother Shanna Little.

The family, which didn't have insurance, managed to save some sentimental possessions but feared everything else was lost due to smoke damage.

Eventually someone reached the local fire department directly and the fire was quickly under control, but the family deserves much better than being told there were "issues" with 911 that day.

When a person is in distress, he or she needs to know 911 is going to be there. The 911 emergency line has been functioning long enough that there should be no glitches to work out - especially when calls are often a matter of life and death. Numerous safety checks should exist to ensure a scenario like Saturday's doesn't happen.

The fact it did is disquieting - might someone else encounter the same circumstance? It raises the question, "Will 911 be there for me if I ever need to call?"

In order to restore public confidence, someone needs to instigate a thorough inquiry to get to the bottom of how this happened and learn what steps are in place to ensure it doesn't occur again.

The system failed this family in a big way. They deserve answers as well as a face-to-face apology as soon as possible.

© Copyright 2015 Kamloops Daily News

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