Errors in 911 calls on back-to-back days in Corner Brook

Cory Hurley
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The Corner Brook Fire Department’s dispatch to the wrong address Saturday came just a day after an ambulance was also sent to the wrong location.

The fire crew took more than 10 minutes to get to a fire on West Avenue last Saturday, a response that should have taken a mere two or three minutes. The department was dispatched to Westview Avenue.

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary confirmed it was a mistake by the dispatcher and the matter was being reviewed to prevent future errors.

“We need to do better,” Insp. Terry Corbin said earlier this week.

The Western Star was later informed of a similar situation involving an ambulance responding to Commerce Court on Main Street. The emergency responders were seen entering that facility, before leaving for the commerce building (where CIBC is located) where the call originated from.

This time, the confusion of the address came from a misunderstanding during the call itself.

Sgt. Tim Buckle of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary said the caller requested assistance at the commerce building. In confirming the address, Buckle said the dispatcher asked if that was at Commerce Court and the caller said it was.

Buckle said the error was made by the caller in this circumstance, which would be open to interpretation.

Regardless, these incidents validate the importance of callers and dispatchers receiving and passing along the correct information, admits Buckle.

A spokesperson for Western Health said the error was made by the dispatcher who confused commerce court with the commerce building.

A Reliable Ambulance crew responded from Western Memorial Regional Hospital. The error was discovered “fairly quickly,” but it caused a two-minute delay to the medical emergency.

The spokesperson for Western Health stated via email there are processes the dispatcher can follow to reduce the chance of this happening. Examples are having the caller repeat the location, spell the street name and verbally confirm the caller’s request.

“When something like this does happen, we take it seriously and try to find opportunities to try to prevent similar situations in the future,” the email stated.

Organizations: Corner Brook Fire Department, Westview Avenue.The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, Western Health CIBC

Geographic location: Corner Brook, West Avenue, Western Star

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Recent comments

  • West Side Girl
    August 16, 2014 - 12:51

    One solution would be for the City not to give streets similar names. Look at a City Street Index and you'll see, for instance, Park Drive, Park Lane and Park Street - West Avenue, West Street, West Valley Road, Westview Avenue - Penney's Avenue, Penney's Lane - Hillcrest Road, Hillside Road, Hillview Road - Humber Road, Humber Park.

  • Omar Little
    August 16, 2014 - 07:26

    Almost two years ago we caught a young man trying to steal our car. With the help of a passer-by my father and I apprehended him and called 911. While trying to keep the situation - and the would-be thief - under control we waited for the police. A few minutes later 911 called back(!) because the police couldn't find us. We were on Petries Street, a main road; the only road that leads to Humber Arm South. They told us that that police were on Petries Street but couldn't find us. It still amazes me. And I'm not even going to get into the fact that the police only took statements from two people, one of whom was just a bystander, and not one from me, one of the two people that was directly involved in stopping the theft and holding the would-be thief until the authorities arrived. I lost a bit of faith in the system that day. What if it had been a life-threatening situation? I guess we're lucky it wasn't.