RCMP 911 call center in Edmonton undergoes upgrade as call volume increases

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According to the Alberta RCMP, the average number of emergency calls received each week is up 10-15%.

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K Division Operational Communications Centers staff exposed the traffic trend when they unveiled a $900,000 renovation to its Northern Alberta Operations Center in Edmonton on Thursday.

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Megan Adkin has worked as an operator for almost three years and said the replacement of the 15-year-old desks is a big draw. Now everyone can customize each workspace to their personal preferences, making the difference on a 12-hour shift. Adkin said that while her job can be tough, she loves it.

« Once you hit the ground, we joke that it’s like the worst best roulette game. You literally have no idea what’s going to happen on the other side of that phone line. You’re there answer, you handle that phone call, then you take care of the next one,” she said.

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« It’s stressful, it’s difficult, but it’s rewarding, » she said, adding that it’s rewarding to know that they are able to offer immediate help to people going through some from their worst days.

Individual offices now come with their own heating, cooling and adjustable lighting – mostly arranged around the room in a soothing dark blue.

Chris Spence, acting manager of the two operational communications centers in Alberta, said that with the COVID-19 pandemic, call volumes have come down a bit, but now they’re starting to increase. Compared to last year, he said they are now seeing a 10-15% increase in calls on average week over week.

Through Dec. 24, the office had received nearly 650,000 calls in 2022. Of those calls, 239,000 were from people dialing 911.

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Between two call centers in Edmonton and Red Deer, up to 32 people work both to respond to calls and dispatch police across the province.

Partly because shift work can be difficult for some workers and their families, Spence said there’s always a need for more 911 dispatchers at the RCMP.

“People don’t call the RCMP or 911 because they’re having a great day. It’s a crisis for them, whether it’s a lost garden gnome or something more gruesome… So our operators have been prepared for all of this, and it’s impacting individuals he said, noting that while they have safeguards like stress debriefings after critical incidents, they are seeing mental health issues, fatigue and other chronic illnesses.

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Spence said the desk upgrades are partly to make things more comfortable for operators, who are often tied to their workstations, sometimes dealing with life-threatening emergencies.

« It’s important that when they’re here doing their job, they have the comfort they need so they can be responsive, alert and oriented so that when that call comes in, that’s the start of the shift. or the last call at the end of the shift, (people) will get the same response from the RCMP,” Spence said.

The RCMP also installed a new phone system in both call centers that will be compatible with the next generation 911 platform when it becomes mandatory for telecommunications service providers.

« It’s allowed us to be future-proof, » Spence said, noting that the new technology will help improve location accuracy and get better data for RCMP officers or law enforcement partners. other agencies such as firefighters or paramedics.



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