RCMP Sgt. responds to letter to the editor

Police response questioned and Castlegar Sgt. NCOi/c Laurel Mathew answers

RCMP Sgt. Laurel Mathew speaks at an event in Castlegar's Spirit Square April 23

In response to a letter to the editor dated June 13, regarding the dispatching of first responders to a medical emergency call, it was stated that “911 was called several times with no response, and that the RCMP were called to no avail“. I would like to clear up any misconceptions.

The date of this occurrence was May 24, and 911 was called at 15:54 hours at 3:54 p.m. Upon receipt, the call was immediately directed to the ambulance dispatch. When someone calls 911, the call taker in the 911 centre asks the caller if they need Police, Fire or Ambulance.  If the caller says “ambulance”, then the call is routed directly to the ambulance dispatch centre. If the caller starts telling the dispatcher what he/she is calling for, as in this case a male that was having medical issues at Tim Hortons, the call would be put through to the ambulance.

Police are not dispatched to medical calls unless there is a concern for safety for some reason. For example, if the medical issue occurs as a result of an assault, then both Police and EHS may attend, or if EHS gets to a medical call and feel there is need for Police attendance (ie: someone is injured but agitated or potentially violent), they will call Police dispatch and request them to attend. In turn,  paramedics don’t get dispatched to an armed robbery, the Police do. If something is on fire, the fire department is dispatched. If someone has a heart attack, the Paramedics are dispatched.

In this case, an individual had experienced a medical issue not related to any assault or “suspicious occurrence”, and therefore the Police were not dispatched, hence the reason they didn’t attend.

I hope this clears things up and as requested in the letter to the editor, the issue of whether the appropriate first responders attended, was looked into.


Sgt Laurel Mathew

NCOi/c Castlegar RCMP

— Editor’s Note: original letter can be found HERE.

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