The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has approved, with conditions, plans to expand 911 across the Yukon.
The commission approved the Yukon government’s temporary solution with the understanding that actual 911 service will be up and running in the Yukon in the next 12 to 20 months, according to a statement from the CRTC.
Under the interim plan, people in Yukon communities won’t have to remember the different seven-digit numbers for fire, police and ambulance.
Instead, after calling 911, they’ll be directed to a recorded message to press either one, two or three depending on what kind of help they need.
The government had proposed that callers would then be forwarded to the appropriate seven-digit number. But the CRTC said that isn’t good enough, as there would be no assurance that callers would ultimately connect to a live person.
Jim Regimbal, president of the Association of Yukon Fire Chiefs, said about 80 per cent of the Yukon’s 25 fire departments work on a pager system or some sort of page/radio combination. In Dawson, for example, if you call the fire department, you are put through to the hand-held radios carried by the firefighters. A firefighter is then able to take down the information.
If no one picks up, you’ll have to hang up and dial the RCMP, Regimbal said.
Under the CRTC’s modification, unanswered calls would be automatically transferred to the local RCMP detachment or the 911 call centre in Whitehorse.
Community Services Minister Brad Cathers said he’s confident the government will be able to meet that condition.
So far no date has been set for when the interim plan could begin. The CRTC has only approved it to run until July 2016.
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