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ANDREW FALL

Regional Director

I have two significant items on which to report:

Island Health “Whole Community” Vaccination Clinics – coming back by popular demand: Island Health is planning to organize a second set of vaccination clinics on Lasqueti. These will be open to anyone for the first or second dose. The dates aren’t yet available, so keep an eye out for updated information.

Registration: Island Health has adapted their system, and are asking people to register in advance (which will help with their planning).

Anyone who got their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine on or before April 6 should register in the provincial system as soon as possible. This applies to everyone who was immunized on Lasqueti or elsewhere prior to and including April 6.

You can either register on line at: GetVaccinated.gov.bc.ca
or call : 1-833-838-2323 (toll free)

The registration ensures that your contact information is available so you can be reached by email, text or phone when it is time to make your appointment.

You can register yourself, a family member or friend. You can also call the above number for support or if you are unsure if you are registered in the provincial system.

 

New Emergency Calling Number: Coming soon – watch for updated information

This has been a long process, and I expect some people have a few questions. A lot of the background has occurred in closed meetings, and I am only able to discuss aspects released publicly. I hope the following will help clarify what is happening with this process.

At its Dec 2020 meeting, the qRD Board made the following public announcement (on which I reported in the Jan newsletter and at the Feb town hall):

"The Board adopted the Amended Option C dispatch system as an interim system for Lasqueti Island, while more information is gathered on current cost comparison analysis and public engagement on both the Amended Option C and the North Island 911 dispatch systems."

In early May, the qRD issued a media release (available on the qRD web site) that included:
 

“At its April 29, 2021 qathet Regional Board (qRD) meeting, the Regional Board adopted the implementation of Amended Option C as an interim emergency dispatch solution for Lasqueti Island.”

 

“To implement Amended Option C, the qRD has contracted Northern 911 to provide live operator dispatch services for emergency services on island. The Northern 911 dispatch centre will provide a live operator 24/7 to receive emergency calls and to dispatch responders on Lasqueti Island.”

 

“For the time being, Lasqueti Island residents should continue to use the current emergency calling procedures. The qRD, Northern 911 and the Lasqueti Island Volunteer Fire Department will be undergoing an implementation phase this spring in order to ensure system readiness. Once the system is effective, the qRD will notify the public through media releases, and by posting on Lasqueti.ca. Residents are encouraged to check for official updates as the transition to the new dispatching system begins.”

 

This April decision is best viewed as a re-confirmation of the December public announcement. The wheels of regional district business sometimes turn slowly.

  

There are two parts to this decision:

 

PART 1: Adopting Amended Option C as an interim dispatch system for LIVFD

 

Amended Option C was defined by the dispatch expert C. Kellett to consist of the call answer/transfer and fire dispatch service of Northern911 (in Ontario; not to be confused with North Island 911/NI911 in Campbell River), plus associated training and community consultation.

 

It is essentially the core of the "Option C" recommended by the Emergency Dispatch Advisory Committee (E-DAC) and supported by the community in 2016, but with a specific call centre that can be contracted for a non-911 service (per the Option C proposal), and that also handles 911 calls in Ontario (so has fast call answering).

 

The Northern911 call centre service will:

  1. Provide a single 10-digit emergency call number for all emergencies.

  2. Medical calls: will be transferred to BC Ambulance dispatchers using their emergency line (our current system uses the non-emergency number).

  3. Fire calls: will be transferred to an in-house fire dispatcher who will take steps to contact the LIVFD response coordinator (local dispatcher) using an agreed-upon protocol. This will allow callers to talk immediately with a person, not an answering machine, and to convey relevant information without having to wait for a callback. It will also allow our local response coordinators to receive incident information quickly.

 

This will reduce pressure on our LIVFD volunteers, improve emergency call handling, and reduce liability risk for the qRD. Hopefully, this will be a tangible improvement for all parties.

 

The Northern911 service will be part of the LIVFD regional district service, and will cost about $200/month plus some one-time start-up costs (e.g. to update our emergency number cards). There is funding allocated in the LIVFD budget for this.

 

The Northern911 service set up and protocol integration with LIVFD procedures are nearly complete.

 

What to expect: Prior to the switch-over day, new emergency number cards will be provided to every household and business in the community. There will be public notices and communications to help ensure people know of the change, which is scheduled for early June.

 

PART 2: Public consultation and updating cost comparison

 

The last public consultation on the LIVFD dispatch system was by the E-DAC in 2016 on Option C. In my view, the choice should be driven by the community of whether or not to commit to Amended Option C, to reconsider the alternative option of NI911 (North Island 9-1-1 in Campbell River), or to seek other solutions. 

 

The updated cost information is being undertaken because the costing done by E-DAC and C. Kellett are out of date after so many years ...

 

If the community supports continuing with Amended Option C, its functionality will be monitored over time, with opportunities for future changes as our community sees fit (e.g. following improvements to communications over high-speed internet). The option to adopt the NI911 system in the future will remain, if the community so wishes (but recall that once a 911 system is adopted, it cannot be removed according to Provincial regulation, so assessing other options first seems appropriate). As does the option to move towards a locally-administered fire department (as done on Hornby), but that would require a lot of up-front planning and a referendum.

 

What to expect: Opportunities for your views and preferences to be heard regarding dispatch, including your views on the interim Amended Option C system as well as alternatives, including NI911 and local administration.

 

The use of the phase “” means that the Northern911 service is being set up now. After some experience with Amended Option C, it can be confirmed as a longer-term solution or other options can be discussed. Regional districts are designed to provide the services (and only the services) that a community desires. Any major changes (such as adding or removing services) requires approval from the electors (and I have told the qRD Board that I will not “approve on behalf of the electors” instead of asking the electors directly, except for a situation with a clear majority of support).

 

What about the other aspects of the original Option C?

 

Option C had two other pieces that expert C. Kellett felt were not really part of a dispatch system (even if related) and better handled separately within the LIVFD service:

 

  1. Emergency Incident and Resource Locator Tool:  The long process to get to the Northern911 service sidelined this locator tool for the past few years. But improvements to locating emergency incidents are very important, and LIVFD volunteers are actively exploring options. I will contribute what I am able to help members of LIVFD to dust off and review this tool, and explore other ideas.
     

  2. Radio coverage: A Radio Coverage Analysis was done last year to explore options for an on-island VHF communications system so that LIVFD is not reliant on commercial paging services, based on the 2017 recommendations from dispatch expert C. Kellett. The project was undertaken by Planetworks Consulting, and included a visit to Lasqueti to see the terrain in person, and to meet with senior members of LIVFD and myself. I gave a brief report when this project was initiated (in the Jan 2020 newsletter) and just before the report was due to be received by the qRD Board (in the Nov newsletter). At this point, I am not able to say anything more, other than improvements to radio communications for LIVFD is important and efforts are ongoing.

Please feel free to contact me. I am honoured to be your regional representative.

Director Andrew Fall, qathet Regional District

Contact: Tel: 250-333-8595

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Cick the link below for a .pdf version of the latest issue. Deadline for July edition is June 25th, 2021

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