911 wait times in B.C.: More dispatchers to be hired in coming weeks to address issues
More dispatchers will be hired to address the longer-than-usual wait times for those who need emergency aid in British Columbia.
B.C. Emergency Health Services told CTV News it's aware of the issues those who call 911 are facing as they wait to be connected to emergency medical call takers.
Some say they've been put on hold or had to wait for a longer period of time for their call to be answered. Others say they haven't been able to get through at all.
It's been on ongoing problem, with E-Comm, B.C.'s multi-municipality agency that connects 911 callers to the proper emergency service provider, warning as recently as Monday of high call volumes and increased wait times.
E-Comm explained previously that the waits are largely due to staffing shortages with BCEHS, and that when a caller can't get through or is put on hold when calling 911, it may be because an E-Comm dispatcher is waiting with a previous caller for a BCEHS counterpart to answer the phone.
BCEHS said Tuesday it's working with the province to hire and train more than 30 new staff members between now and December. A spokesperson said that's in addition to 25 jobs recently added at three dispatch centres.
"BCEHS has also increased clinical support in dispatch centres (using paramedic specialists, nurses and doctors) to help triage and manage calls and 24-7 manager support in dispatch to help with delays and escalation," the spokesperson said in an email.
In the meantime, callers are urged to ensure they're only dialing 911 for something truly considered an emergency and, in cases where their condition isn't urgent and it's safe to do so, find another way to get to a nearby hospital, so paramedics can respond to critical patients.
"If you receive a recorded message when trying to get through to the ambulance service, please stay on the line as that is the fastest way to get help," BCEHS said.