History of ECOMM
E-Comm (Emergency Communications for Southwest B.C.) was created as a direct result of the 1994 Stanley Cup riot. That spring, hockey-fever captured British Columbia as the Vancouver Canucks advanced to the Stanley Cup final. Sadly, the team lost in the seventh and deciding game.
But that game was a night that would not only go down in history as disappointing for long-suffering hockey fans, but also as a night that would forever change the course of emergency communications in B.C.
As fans took to the streets to lament the team’s loss, so did many trouble makers. The Vancouver Police Department was forced to call in the Crowd Control Unit and request back-up from neighbouring RCMP detachments in an effort to disperse the out-of-control crowd. Unruly drunks put innocent bystanders in harm’s way and downtown businesses fast became easy prey for vandals and looters.
In the midst of the chaos, the Vancouver police radio system was unable to handle the amount of radio traffic and paramedics, firefighters and police found themselves in extreme danger because their radio systems were not compatible. In fact, emergency responders standing just metres apart were forced to yell information to one another over the crowds.
12 hours later, as the damage was assessed and crews worked overtime to clean-up the debris, emergency service providers knew it wasn’t just the downtown core that required re-building. And so, out of a provincial commission and much leadership at the municipal level, E-Comm was born.
Through a 9-1-1 call centre, a state-of-the-art radio system and emergency dispatch operations, E-Comm now provides communications services and support systems to our region’s emergency responders and the more than two-million residents they serve. E-Comm began operations in June 1999.
There are many benefits for the residents of the municipalities that participate in E-Comm. For example, emergency responders are able to communicate directly with one another because they are now sharing the same E-Comm radio system. If there is an incident in one of the municipalities that is an E-Comm partner, police, fire and ambulance crews will be able to communicate directly with one another. If there should be a police pursuit that crosses jurisdictional boundaries, officers will be able to coordinate their response with police in each of the cities involved because they too share the same radio system. The result is increased public and emergency personnel safety.
As a not-for-profit organization, E-Comm is owned by its members. These include municipalities, police boards, and provincial and federal government agencies. Each member is allocated a share, either class A or class B, for participation in the radio system either now or in the future.
In order to establish such a unique organization, E-Comm was created under new legislation known as the Emergency Communications Corporations Act and is governed by that Act
E-Comm has grown to support a wide area radio network that is used throughout Metro Vancouver by all police and ambulance personnel plus 10 fire departments. E-Comm is also the be the 9-1-1 answer point for Metro Vancouver, the Sunshine Coast and Squamish-Lillooet Regional Districts (south) including Whistler and Pemberton. E-Comm also provides dispatch services for more than 30 police and fire departments, and public-safety technology support. E-Comm operates under a cost- recovery model with its shareholders (municipalities) and is overseen by a board of directors.
Each member is allocated a share, either class A or class B, for each Designated Company Service (e.g. fire services, police services, ambulance services and municipal services) in which the member has agreed to participate in, either now or in the future.
Background provided by E-Comm – www.ecomm911.ca