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The provincial government announced last week that a provincial 911 emergency phone system would be up and running by the end of the year as planned.

The basic system will see a centre in St. John’s handling calls from the Avalon region and another in Corner Brook for the rest of the island.

Minister Dan Crummell, the minister responsible for Fire and Emergency Services, seems confident about the deadline being met, but there is still lots to be done before the Jan. 1st changeover to a provincial system.

When planning began for this “improvement,” one of the biggest impediments was the fact that many streets in rural Newfoundland and Labrador have no signs, much less individual homes having well-displayed numbers.

Those shortcomings are bad enough when calls are being answered by someone nearby who knows what and where the caller is talking about — but that isn’t going to be good enough when someone in Corner Brook is taking life and death call from a caller hundreds of miles away and lacking the local geographical knowledge for every little cove and inlet.

That was a worry from the start and there has been nothing said since to make anyone believe that a solution has been put in place.

Just in the last couple of weeks, there were two incidents where firefighters and an ambulance were sent to the wrong address right in the middle of Corner Brook, where street signs and numbers have been the norm for decades.

This switch is just a few short months away and someone in charge had better be sure the system is fool proof before throwing the switch to the provincial system.

Organizations: Fire and Emergency Services

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador

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