Currently, 93 per cent of police, fire, paramedic and ambulance calls in Nova Scotia are handled through two 911 communications centres.
The RCMP operates one in Truro and the HRM Police have one in Dartmouth. Having the two equal centres located more than 90 kilometers apart means that one centre would likely be unaffected if the other area was disabled by a man-made or natural disaster. This is called redundancy. The RCMP is proposing to move its communication centre to Dartmouth, eliminating that redundancy, which provides a safety factor for all Nova Scotians.
This proposal is still being considered despite the fact that a 2004 RCMP comprehensive report on Emergency Communications facilities in Nova Scotia says, “It is not recommended that the two largest police communications operations in Nova Scotia be placed within the same metropolitan area”. The same report goes on to say, “Primary service delivery site should be outside of HRM due to risks of placing two largest police communications centres in close proximity to each other”.
Two other frequently used manuals on emergency communications, which guide Canadian police forces, are the U.S Homeland Security Continuity Guidance manual and the National Emergency Number Association manual. Both emphasize the need for redundancy through separated locations. These reports state that, “Organizations should have adequate, separate locations to ensure execution of their functions”, and that there should be, “sufficient distance between the facility location and other facilities”. Also, “It is desirable to have at least two layers of redundancy”.
The common denominator in these three reports is the need for “redundancy”.
At the moment, Nova Scotia has redundancy in the emergency communications system. Locating the two main police communications systems in Dartmouth eliminates that redundancy and puts all Nova Scotians at risk of diminished emergency communications in the middle of a disaster when they need it the most.
This “reverse redundancy” is contrary to the RCMP’s own conclusions and defies the primary redundancy standards established by experts in the field of emergency service delivery. The safety of Nova Scotians should be the number one concern and consideration for this proposal should end now.
Bill Casey is the Member of Parliament for Cumberland-Colchester in Nova Scotia.