The government’s inaction on 911 and civic addressing is putting Yukoners at risk. I frequently bump into Yukon residents who don’t know what emergency numbers they should dial when outside 911 coverage zones. I suspect tourists travelling our highways are even less aware of who to turn to in emergency situations.
In most rural Yukon communities, there can be up to four different numbers for RCMP, EMS, the nursing station and the fire department. On top of that, the lack of consistency and uniformity in street numbering and civic addressing means a concerned citizen might witness a fire, car accident, heart attack or some other emergency, make successful contact, but not be able to communicate a location. I have heard tales from volunteer firefighters trying to figure out where to go based on directions like “just past where Old Jim used to live.”
The current system – or rather hodgepodge – can create confusion and delay among first responders, and the consequences can be dire.
Last week, the president of the Association of Yukon Fire Chiefs stated in clear terms that the time has come for all Yukon communities to be connected to the 911 emergency system and have standardized civic addressing. The NDP Official Opposition couldn’t agree more, and we’ve been arguing for this reasonable, common sense improvement for years.
This is not a new issue. For years, Yukon communities have called for action. For years, Yukon NDP MLAs have raised the issue in the legislative assembly. And for years, the Yukon Party government has ignored the problem and not acted.
In defending their inaction, the Yukon Party government has called the issue “complicated.” Quite frankly, it isn’t that complicated – 911 saves lives. And ensuring our first responders have straightforward co-ordinates to easily navigate to an emergency is not rocket science.
Hopefully, the Yukon Party government will now choose to stop ignoring the problem, get to work and find the resources for these basic improvements to essential services.
MLA for Mount Lorne –