E-Comm to pick up Nanaimo’s emergency calls

NANAIMO – The Central Island 911 Partnership hired Vancouver-based E-Comm to be the first contact for 911 callers.

The next time you dial 911, it could be Vancouver-based E-Comm picking up the call.

The Central Island 911 Partnership has hired E-Comm as the first contact for emergency callers, beginning this November.

Calls are currently answered in Courtenay, a recent move stemming from the Nanaimo RCMP’s consolidation of its operational communications centre in the North Island.

Mike Dietrich, the City of Nanaimo’s manager of police support services, said people won’t notice the difference with the transition to E-Comm, which already provides service to 23 other regional districts and communities across the province.

E-Comm will pick up the 911 calls and direct them to dispatch centres, including fire in Nanaimo and police in Courtenay. The benefit is a cheaper alternative than an RCMP contract, less expense for next-generation technology and the ability for the company to handle large call volumes in the case of a major emergency, according to Dietrich.

E-Comm will cost $250,920 to the partnership this year with a one-time $16,000 fee. It’s a cost-per-call service that is expected to rise year-over-year to $258,450 in 2016. Nanaimo pays 45 per cent of the total expense.

The second-lowest option had been Nanaimo Fire-Comm at $281,310 with a $174,266 start up cost, while the RCMP contract would have amounted to $719,900.

“We are looking forward to it being a smooth transition and there won’t be any perceivable difference to the public in terms of calling 911,” Dietrich said.

The City of Nanaimo is currently working with CUPE to find two affected employees alternative jobs within the corporation. The transition takes place Nov. 17.