BCAS call centre drops call

Investigation into cause could take B.C. Ambulance Service months.

BC Ambulance Service (BCAS) is investigating after a 911 call for ambulance service in Smithers went unanswered.

Just before 8 p.m., at the corner of First Avenue and King Street, on Sunday, May 21, Interior News reporter Amara Janssens noticed a woman in her 30s on the ground.

“She was grabbing her abdomen and screaming in pain,” Janssens said.

After trying to assess the situation, Janssens called 911.

A 911 operator in Prince George answered Janssens call immediately.

Janssens asked for B.C. Ambulance Services and her call was transferred to the BCAS dispatch centre in Kamloops.

With the woman still screaming on the ground, Janssens waited for more than a minute for the BCAS dispatch centre in Kamloops to pick up her call.

They didn’t.

“I was concerned why the ambulance wasn’t picking up my call,” Janssens said.

“They [BCAS] have a record of me calling.”

While Janssens was waiting for BCAS to answer her call, a male driving a red pickup truck stopped and offered to bring the woman to the hospital.

At this point Janssens hung up to assist with the woman in distress.

It is BCAS policy to call back in such cases where a 911 call is interrupted for any reason, Dr. Jaco Fourie, medical director and advisor to the BCAS for the Skeena and the Northwest region, said.

“[It’s] policy to call back, to see if the emergency has been resolved,” Dr. Fourie explained.

Neither 911 or BCAS called back.

Chris Spence, of the Public Safety Answering Point, a call centre responsible for answering calls to emergency services said when there is an abandoned 911 call with the initial operator, three phone calls are made to the caller, and then a police file is made.

Spence explained that most smartphones are equipped with GPS, and even if the cell phone is registered in another area, 911 dispatch is able to locate the caller.

BCAS launched an investigation into the incident, which could take several months to resolve, Fourie said.

Nonetheless, Fourie still struggles with the initial problem.

“I wonder to whom the call would have gone through and why no one picked up?” Fourie asked.

Nonetheless, Dr. Fourie still struggles with the initial problem, that no one picked up.