Don’t fix what was not broken

Don’t fix what was not broken

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As a volunteer firefighter, I can attest to how crucial it is to have a spot-on dispatch system.

Unfortunately, we don’t have that right now. Although we used to under the previous system with dispatcher Allan Stark and his crew in Penticton.

You may recall that the regional district chose Kelowna as the new dispatch contractor basically because its bid was a million dollars cheaper than Penticton’s.

At the time, it sounded great to save that much money and be assured that dispatch services would be upgraded and enhanced. But the system wasn’t broken to begin with; it was very reliable and consistent, with dispatchers like Dawn Young who knew our communities like their back pockets. They knew Oliver, they knew its streets and back alleys, and always pointed local firefighters in the right direction . . . every time.

The dispatchers in Kelowna are competent and dedicated to their craft, but they’re working with an internet-based system that tends to be inconsistent (glitches in communication). We can’t afford glitches when it’s somebody’s life or property on the line.

Now the regional district is spending $1.6 million to upgrade the emergency call infrastructure, with a new communication tower on Okanagan Mountain. I guess we didn’t save a million dollars by switching contracts.

It remains to be seen if this new upgrade will address some of the communication problems that fire departments have been experiencing.

There was nothing wrong with the old radio-based system; it had a better back-up service than Kelowna’s. Even the dispatchers made it a point to visit each fire hall in the district to develop a rapport with members and talk about concerns.

New isn’t always better, and sometimes technology can be more of a headache than a cure.

Lyonel Doherty

Editor, Oliver Chronicle

1 COMMENT

  1. Thanks for the great (and so true) comments, Lyonel. We were promised lower costs; I’ve sure never seen any, only higher taxes, less service (we were told that no services would be lost..Fake News). Also the regional district was supposed to spend $1.6 million to upgrade the emergency call infrastructure, with a new communication tower on Okanagan Mountain. Well, that NEVER happened, at all. They found out (after the vote to move Dispatch passed) that it was too expensive to use Okanagan Mountain site for radio linking, so they opted for a much cheaper Internet based linking system (which has failed numerous times since installed). I guess you get what you pay for but it doesn’t appear to be any cheaper at all, plus many services to the South Okanagan were lost. Hard facts but I believe them to be true. We, as Dispatchers were proud to serve the South Okanagan/Similkameen region for 22 years and it was a sad day when it was Centralized in Kelowna.

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