A while back I received a call from a resident at BEP and they had fallen down and after struggling for a while simply fell asleep on the floor wedged against the wall. After they woke up it took hours for them to crawl into a position to grab their cell phone.  They first called 911 and then they called me as they realized that there was no way they could answer the intercom and needed some one at the entrance to let the ambulance crew in.

So I went down stairs and let the EMT’s in.

The EMT with the clip board asked me if I knew there was no key for them and that they would have to smash in the glass on the door to get access to the building. This was a serious situation, one that persists today.

We have to get this matter settled and make sure Emergency Services (VFD) has a key to the front door via the built in key storage boxes located next to the Intercom system @ the front Main Street Entrance of 380 Main Street  – Bruce Eriksen Place.

Woman’s death prompts changes to B.C.’s 911 system

Chelsea Brent remembers her mother as someone who always lived her best life, despite her struggles.

“She was well known downtown, everyone said hi to her,” Brent recalled, adding many people in her Downtown Eastside neighbourhood knew Tracey Gundersen as “Mom.”

The 56-year-old died last November, after calling 911 to report she was bleeding profusely. Her death and the emergency response surrounding it were the focus of an external investigation ordered by the health ministry, after Brent wrote letters and met with the minister.

On Monday, a report has been released, making 14 recommendations for change.

“I hope that no one else has to go through this. I hope there’s not another Tracey Gundersen that loses her life,” Brent said.

Brent shared the audio of her mother’s 911 call from November 8, 2018 with CTV News Vancouver. According to the report, the call was placed at 8:15 am.

Dispatcher: BC Ambulance, for what city please?

Gundersen: Vancouver. I’m bleeding profusely.

Dispatcher: Hang on, what’s the address you need help to, ma’am?

Gundersen proceeded to provide her building address on Powell Street and her buzzer number.

She also unlocked the door to her unit. The dispatcher told her how to try and stop the bleeding and continued to reassure her help was on the way.

Gundersen’s voice sounded distressed, and then her speech became less clear as the call continued.

Gundersen: I’m all dizzy and blurry.

Dispatcher: I understand. Just hang in there — we’re going to be there soon to help you.

Thirty-five minutes passed before first responders reached Gundersen. By then, the report indicated she had no pulse and efforts to save her failed.

The review, conducted by two emergency room physicians from Vancouver and Toronto respectively, found in conclusion: “The investigators are not certain that this death was avoidable although it may have been if paramedics had been able to access the patient more promptly.”

A timeline set out in the report shows though paramedics arrived at Gundersen’s building five minutes after the call was placed, they encountered problems getting inside: first at the exterior locked door, and then because a “specific security fob” was required for an elevator. Firefighters were then called, but by the time they reached Gundersen, just over half an hour had passed and it was too late.

The Vancouver Fire Department has responded to the report. In a statement, Fire Chief Darrell Reid said they support the findings, and “do not want a tragedy like this to happen again.”


  1. Our local VFD station on Main Street said today to a member that they will break through the glass on the door to make entry to respond in the case of an emergency (911 / Fire / Ambulance)

  2. Progress. Spoke with Jackson, John, and Randy over @ City Of Vancouver
    Via #311

    Spoke with Randy @ Fire Planning
    VFD Lock Box Keys.
    Phone: 604-654-0621

  3. My Thanks to Randy Motkaluk for the help today!

    What Randy was able to explain to me is that Vancouver Fire does need this access. I asked him to cite the ordinance.

    What came of my inquiry was the understanding that Ambulance and Police have no ordinance or Lockbox Program mandated by a bylaw quote “The lockbox program is specific to the Fire Department and enforced by the Vancouver Fire Bylaw”

    One can well imagine there is certain laws and protections in place that keep Vancouver’s Police from having a mandated bylaw lockbox program, the concern is now with ambulance. 911 Dispatch from what I heard just assighns them how ever.. So it is the calls place in the queue @911 that determines the first responder dispatched.

    In any case Ambulance EMT’s are not carying axes to smash out the glass doors to gain entry.

    Ambulance does not have a lockbox program.

    This brings me to my last thought on non electrical manual entry and locks… in times of power outages and or personal / building emergencies, crisis, or even disaster. Residents are effectively locked in and or out depending on circumstance based on the electronic fob only system. With out a physical key to the lock on the front door we all are less secure and not as well equipped to deal with situations such as medical / physical emergencies, power outages and malfunctions.

    I hope to work within BEPRA / NHS to come to some resolution and actions, I think that In addition to Vancouver Fire Services having key access via lockbox, a physical front door physical Key program for residents should be made available.

    I was happy to have Vancouver Fire Chief Darrell Reid reply to a private message on twitter about our current situation.

    He / his office writes: “VFRS shares this concern. My email is Darrell.Reid@vancouver.ca

    Thanks Darrell, #311 City Of Vancouver, Vancouver Fire and you are a credit to civics. As a civil libertarian having your support and simple cooperation is appreciated.

    Here is that email sent to me within an hour on making and inquiry from Randy at Vancouver Fire. I asked Randy to CC TERRA via: Kateryna.

    Here is the email reply.
    380 Main St – Fire Department Access Lockbox Information

    “Hi John,

    Thank you for inquiring about the City of Vancouver Fire Department Lockbox Program.

    The lockbox program is specific to the Fire Department and enforced by the Vancouver Fire Bylaw: Power of Entry

    1) The Fire Chief may enter any building, premises or motor vehicle at any reasonable time, for the purpose of administering or enforcing this By-law or inspecting for conditions which may cause fire or explosion, or may increase the risk of fire, explosion or danger to persons or property

    Here is a list of keys/fob needed for fire department emergency access:

    Front Entrance and Common Areas
    Mechanical/Sprinkler/Electrical Room
    Fire Alarm Panel, Fire Alarm Pull Station Reset Key (if applicable)
    Firefighter Elevator, Elevator Room, Firefighter Elevator Phone (if applicable)
    Roof Hatch (if applicable)
    Fire Safety Plan box (if applicable)

    Below is a link to the City of Vancouver lockbox program:


    I have also included a short list of authorized Mul-t-lock dealers/installers that provide quotes and handle the permit process as well.

    If you have any questions about the lockbox installation, please let me know.


    Randy Motkaluk
    Fire Inspector – PreFire Planning
    Lockbox and Knox FDC Program Coordinator
    Vancouver Fire Rescue Services
    Tel 604-654-0621 Cell 604-603-2821
    600 – 575 W 8th Avenue
    Vancouver BC, V5Z 0C4″

    So that is it for now on this matter. I will included progress updates as they happen,

    I will be cc·’ing this to the NHS board keeping them abreast of progress and for their records.

    With regards to all stake holders,

    John: Admin @BEPRA

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