LETTER: Dispatch troubles

As initial 911 caller regarding a Paulson Bridge accident on the morning of March 18, I wish to clarify some things.

Editor:

Re: Gazebo at the Lake set on fire (police report in the March 21 issue of the Grand Forks Gazette)

As the initial caller to 911 regarding an accident above the Paulson Bridge on the morning of March 18, I wish to clarify that at no time did I, or the lady who came in to the store requesting someone to call 911, ever say that a vehicle had gone off the Paulson Bridge.

I reported that a vehicle had gone over the bank, above the Paulson Bridge. When the lady recovered enough to take the phone, I heard her report the same thing. She did not witness the accident but said witnesses told her the car had flipped over the cement guardrail on the side of the highway and gone down the bank.

I tried to tell the 911 dispatch it was approximately one kilometre above the bridge but they wanted to know exactly how many kilometres the scene was from Christina Lake.

Neither of us knew and a customer in the store guessed between 20 and 30 kilometres.

They wanted to know how steep the bank was (we didn’t know exactly) and if the car was visible from the road (no it was not).

I understand Trail/Rossland was called first and about 20 or 30 minutes later, Christina Lake was called.

I suggest, since we are forced to have a centralized 911 dispatch, at the very least, they should be equipped with maps and computer programs that can pinpoint local landmarks of rural areas, landmarks that local fire departments and first responders would know. Alternatively, the dispatchers must be familiar with all the rural landmarks in the areas they serve.

It was very frustrating speaking with the 911 dispatch and even more so reading in the papers that the call was reported as a vehicle going off the bridge.

I thank God no one was hurt. The delay experienced from having to deal with the centralized 911 dispatch could have been devastating.

Betty Martin, Christina Lake