CUPE 873-02 dispatchers are the lifeline for people in distress and the nerve centre for emergency response in B.C.—facts to be highlighted during Emergency Service Dispatchers and 9-1-1 Awareness Week (April 7-13, 2019).
The more than 500 emergency dispatchers, call takers and support staff in B.C. who work for E-Comm 9-1-1 are members of CUPE 873-02. Every day, they work behind the scenes to ensure that people in distress get the help they need and that communities, families and fellow first responders are kept safe.
“Emergency dispatchers and call takers are often referred to as the ‘first first responders,’” says CUPE 873-02 Unit Chair Matthew Bordewick.
“We are the omnipresent, faceless voices on the radio to police and firefighters on the road, as well as the calm voice on the other end of the phone when someone calls 9-1-1.”
CUPE 873-02 (Emergency Dispatchers of BC) members are the first point of contact for most of the province, daily receiving about 4,100 emergency calls. In recent years, their service has expanded from a select number of police and fire agencies in the Metro and Vancouver area to becoming the first point of contact province-wide for 9-1-1 callers in 25 regional districts, 40 fire departments, 29 police agencies and 99 per cent of B.C.’s 9-1-1 call volumes.
Bordewick describes emergency call takers and dispatchers as a calming influence for 9-1-1 callers in distress, often a lifeline for people calling on the worst day of their life.
“In a way we’re the invisible responders, because people only hear us but never see us. And we’re always there. Our members have your back 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.”