Emergency dispatchers and 9-1-1 call takers are the life line for our communities and their work has become all the more important during the COVID-19 pandemic, CUPE BC President Paul Faoro said today, noting the Province of British Columbia’s proclamation of Emergency Service Dispatchers and 9-1-1 Awareness Week (April 4-10, 2021).

“These workers provide such critical service for public safety, and they do it around the clock. They’re a key part of the emergency response network that helps save lives every day,” said Faoro. “The stresses they deal with are even greater during the pandemic, so we cannot thank them enough for their dedication and commitment.”

The Emergency Communications Professionals of BC, represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 8911, provide critical services for 33 police agencies and 40 fire departments in British Columbia and are the first point of contact for 99 per cent of 9-1-1 calls in B.C. For this year’s Awareness Week, they are highlighting the important service provided by their nearly 600 members by sharing some of their stories of working during the pandemic.

“ESD and 9-1-1 Awareness Week is an important occasion to thank emergency communications professionals—who are always ready 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to handle whatever emergency comes in on the phone line,” says CUPE 8911 President Donald Grant. “This week we’re putting the spotlight on these first, first responders – the heroes who work behind the scenes to get you the help you need.”

Grant says that, over the past year, CUPE 8911 has had to overcome critical staffing shortages while rapidly implementing physical and technological solutions to make the workplace as safe as possible.

“These workers bear the increased psychological challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic to keep the public safe,” says Grant. “Their commitment is truly inspiring.”

To learn more about CUPE 8911 members’ contributions to public safety, follow the Emergency Communications Professionals of BC on Twitter (@911ECPBC), on Facebook and Instagram, or visit ecpbc.ca/911awarenessweek/.