Avalanche death of BYU student results in dispatch policy changes
Lone Peak Fire District spokesman John McRae said there's no such thing as an emergency call that's handled perfectly. Each incident is reviewed to determine how improvements can be made. He said the department is pleased with the changes made because of this incident.
"It's tragic that this girl lost her life. But it's good, on the flip side, it's good we've taken the time to evaluate our procedures and policies and found things we could do better, and we address those and we change. That's the important thing," he said.
The next order of business for Lone Peak firefighters is to get an emergency phone installed in the Tibble Fork area — something they've been requesting for 10 years.
"Because you cannot get any cell coverage," McRae said, "getting that phone up there is crucial."
An emergency phone costs a seemingly manageable $5,000. But McRae said unfortunately, it sometimes takes a tragedy like the avalanche for such projects to become a priority.
The Lone Peak Fire District has set up an account at Bank of American Fork for people who want to donate toward getting an emergency phone.
Mecham said "appropriate action" had been taken as far as any possible discipline for the incident, including retraining dispatchers about the policy, as well as the coding changes.
"Our emphasis is always on sending all the help that is needed. If they're not needed, they can turn away when they're on scene," she said.
Utah Valley Dispatch Special Service District handled more than 250,000 calls in 2013. Only six to seven dispatchers work at one time, and just two of those people take calls, she said. A total of 47 of those calls were for incidents in American Fork Canyon, three of them being calls for search and rescue.
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