Across the province, the standards for emergency response calls will be made more consistent starting next year.
On Aug. 28, the province announced new standards for emergency response and call centres to improve safety across Alberta.
Although the changes were announced this week, the City of St. Albert’s manager of policing services, Aaron Giesbrecht, said that they have already been working to improve their standards to the new provincial regulations.
“We are well prepared for this and like other 911 centres we have known about these standards for quite some time,” Giesbrecht said.
Municipalities will need to be in compliance with the new standards by June 12, 2019, and will include things like establishing common terminology and having a backup procedure in the event of a disruption or outage. Call centres will also need to answer 95 per cent of calls within 15 seconds and transferred within 60 seconds, which is an area in which St. Albert is already above the standard.
According to the 2016 Annual Policing Report, the City of St. Albert has an average call answer time between four and five seconds for the previous six years.
In 2016, approximately 97.5 per cent of all 911 calls received were answered within 10 seconds or less.
Giesbrecht said that in the last year, the city received around 14,000 emergency calls.
Around 50 per cent of all calls made to 911 are for police, 30 per cent are for ambulance service, 10 per cent are for fire and 10 per cent are hang-ups.
A representative of the City of St. Albert was part of the Alberta E911 advisory group that consulted the province on the changes and the city has been slowly making changes to adhere to the new provincial standards.
One area that the city will need to change is by filling a new position for a senior emergency communications operator who will listen back on calls for quality assurance and prepare statistics and documents for new provincial reporting standards.
“We are well on our way to creating forms and looking at our internal auditing process,” Giesbrecht said.
Municipal Affairs Minister Shaye Anderson said these changes are not meant to address any current problems, but set the province up for success in the future.
“We do have a really good system right now. It’s just really trying to make sure that we are ahead of the game and keeping up with the technologies out there,” Anderson said.