NEWMARKET – York Regional Council today welcomed Red E. (Emergency) Fox to the Region as the mascot/ambassador for the 9-1-1 for Kidsä program, an educational initiative targeting primary grade school children.
The initiative reflects the fact that on April 2nd, the responsibility for 9-1-1 call answering will be transferred to York Region from Bell Canada.
Emergency call takers from York Regional Police Services will be the first point of reception for all 9-1-1 calls originating in York Region. After determining whether the emergency requires police, fire or ambulance response, they will re-direct any non-police calls to either the Emergency Medical Services (ambulance paramedics) or local municipal fire departments.
York Region becomes the first Canadian municipality to formally adopt 9-1-1 for Kidsä , a program that has been successfully used in schools across the United States since 1994. The Region will provide a copy of the 9-1-1 for Kidsä classroom kit to all public and Catholic elementary schools in the Region.
"Although there are 10,000 calls made to 9-1-1 centres across Ontario each day, many of these calls are not for true emergencies," said York Regional Chair Bill Fisch. "Red E. Fox will help teach our school children when people should use the emergency call service."
"The 9-1-1 for Kids program reflects our commitment to deliver an important service in an innovative way," explained Chief Administrative Officer Alan Wells. "By teaching our kids we can also reach the parents and cut down the costs associated with misuse of 9-1-1."
For a Fact Sheet on 9-1-1 for Kidsä , a Backgrounder on York Region's 9-1-1 Call Answering, or more information on the Regional Municipality of York, the services we offer and links to our nine area municipalities, please visit our Web site at www.region.york.on.ca
9-1-1 for Kids Program
- The Regional Municipality of York is launching a 9-1-1 public education program aimed at elementary school children, primarily at the Grade 1 level.
- The Region will be supplying each Catholic and public elementary school in the Region with one copy of the kit for the September 2002 school year.
- Projected Grade 1 enrolment for the two school boards in York Region are 9,078 students. There are currently 210 Catholic and public elementary schools in the Region.
- The children's education program includes a video and classroom presentation featuring Red E. (for Emergency) Fox, the 9-1-1 mascot, and seven other delightful puppet characters who star in "The Great 9-1-1 Adventureä " video. The video was created by seven-time Emmy Award winning Tony Urbano Productions, a Los Angeles-based team of artists and puppeteers.
- Experts in the fields of emergency response and education have developed the 9-1-1 for Kids program over a number of years. It has been in place in many classrooms across the United States since 1995.
- The Regional Municipality of York is the first municipality in Canada to formally adopt the program and Red E. Fox. To ensure the program is appropriate for York Region students, curriculum experts from York Region District School Board, as well as emergency response professionals from York Regional Police, York Region EMS, and municipal fire departments, worked with the U.S. non-profit organization which developed the program to develop a Canadian lesson plan for distribution in York Region schools. Now that a Canadian version of this program has been developed, the California-based 9-1-1 for Kidsä organization plans to market the program to other jurisdictions across the country.
- Current statistics indicate that every day there are 10,000 calls made to 9-1-1 centres across the province, many of which are made by young children.
- Emergency personnel responsible for responding to 9-1-1 calls estimate that approximately twenty per cent of all calls to 9-1-1 are "abandoned" calls – hang-ups or silent. Abandoned 9-1-1 calls have both public safety and economic impact. When complete information is not forthcoming from a caller, emergency personnel and equipment are still dispatched. When public safety resources are diverted to false calls, police, fire and/or emergency medical responders are consequently unavailable for real emergencies.
- In addition, there are many calls made to 9-1-1 call centres which are for non-emergency situations (directions, parking tickets, stray animals, etc.) and these also have the effect of tying up emergency personnel and phone lines which may delay response time to a true emergency situation.
- This is one of the objectives of the Red E. Fox video and presentation materials – to decrease misuse of the emergency number, thereby increasing the overall efficiency of the 9-1-1 system. The lesson also teaches children how to save life and property by delivering three distinct messages:
- How to dial 9-1-1
- When to call (discern between emergency and non-emergency)
- What to say to the 9-1-1 Call-taker
- The educational program also aims to provide some information to children in the hope that it will be shared with parents and other family members. With a translation service available in approximately 140 languages, a caller does not have to speak English or French to use 9-1-1, while there is also service available for hearing impaired and deaf callers.
- Another long-term goal of the education program is a reduction in costs in service delivery as result of fewer inappropriate calls to the service.
York Region Assumes Responsibility for
9-1-1 Call Answering
- The delivery of 9-1-1 service to the residents of York Region began in 1994. Bell Canada has provided the first point of reception for 9-1-1 calls, known as a Primary Public Safety Answer Point (Primary PSAP), since inception. The system Bell has used is known as a Neutral Answer Service (NAS) and is located in Ottawa.
- Up until April 1, 2002, a Bell Canada operator in Ottawa answered all calls to 9-1-1 from within York Region. The calls would then be transferred to an appropriate emergency response agency within York Region.
- In June 2001, Regional Council authorized Regional staff to directly provide 9-1-1 emergency service in conjunction with York Regional Police Services. This decision was made in response to an April 2001 application by Bell Canada to the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to withdraw the Neutral Answer Service (NAS).
- In October 2001, Council approved the funding to enable York Regional Police Services to hire 12 call takers and one trainer as part of the implementation of the Region of York's 9-1-1 emergency service number. It was of vital importance that the timing of the new hires include sufficient time for staff to complete the extensive training program required to become a 9-1-1 Call Taker or Dispatcher.
- Initially, the York Regional Police Services Communications Centre – located in the Regional Administrative Centre in Newmarket – is the primary 9-1-1 site. It is anticipated that 9-1-1 and other police communications functions will eventually move to a yet-to-be-determined central communications centre, shared with fire and Emergency Medical Services. A communications centre in the Region's South Services Centre in Richmond Hill will serve as the 9-1-1 back-up location.
The Regional Municipality of York is committed to providing cost-effective, quality services that respond to the needs of our rapidly growing communities. York Region is comprised of the following nine area municipalities: Aurora, East Gwillimbury, Georgina, King, Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Vaughan and Whitchurch-Stouffville. For more information, visit our Web site at: www.region.york.on.ca
Contact: Patrick Casey, Senior Media Relations Specialist, York Region