Satellite phone won’t connect to 911 in remote area

Safety Alert Type: 
Planning and Engineering
Kettle Road – Cherryville, BC (east of Vernon)
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
Company Name: 
Cridland Logging Ltd.
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

Work was starting on a logging project in a remote area with no emergency communications available other than a satellite phone.

During the startup safety meeting the crew reviewed satellite phone operation and practiced by making a test call to 911. The call would not complete and would only connect to a recording saying 911 was not available on this device.

The direct line numbers on the Emergency Contact Card provided by the licensee were tried and a number was found to be out of date.

While researching to find the closest available service and their appropriate phone numbers it was discovered that dispatching of emergency services varies widely by specific location. It was also discovered that some radio repeater links to phone patches may not allow you to dial 911.

The regional Emergency Dispatch Center in Kelowna was contacted. Their advice for when 911 isn’t available was:

  • Call the central Dispatch Center (Police, Fire & Ambulance) via the closest local RCMP detachment number, state you have an emergency and ask for Dispatch. For after hours stay on the line and it will be automatically forwarded to the dispatch center. (Note: there may be a fairly long recording prior to being forwarded)
  • To call BC Ambulance directly use 250-374- 4411 for the Kamloops Ambulance Dispatch Center
  • To call Fire Departments directly - No general number could be found for Fire Department dispatching. Use the central dispatch via RCMP or enquire about local procedures.


Learnings and Suggestions: 
  1. Prior to work commencing on a new worksite check all communication devices to ensure contact with appropriate required emergency service providers can be made and workers know how to operate required phones, radios, repeaters or other equipment. Include a practice call to ensure the process works.

  1. Check all phone numbers in the Emergency Response Plan regularly to ensure they are accurate.
  1. When starting work in a new area check what emergency services are provided, where they are located and how best to contact them especially if 911 is not available. 


For more information on this submitted alert: 

For more information contact: Ernie Cridland, Cridland Logging Ltd. cridlandlogger@gmail.com

File attachments
Satellite phone won’t connect to 911 in remote area.pdf
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