Toronto Police Const. Antoinette Rowe, pictured in 2015 upon her return to Haiti. (Toronto Police Service)

Surrey U.K. police officers help save woman in Surrey B.C. after mixup

Canadian officer helped liaison rescue effort

British police officers were able to help a Canadian woman in distress after she confused the Surrey, U.K. and Surrey, B.C. police services.

Surrey Police, based out of Surrey, U.K., issued a press release Jan. 4 explaining that their social media operator was contacted on Facebook messenger Christmas morning by a suicidal woman in Surrey, B.C.

“In an amazing coincidence,” the release states, Toronto Police Service Const. Antoinette Rowe was visiting the Surrey Police detachment with childhood friend and Surrey Police officer Vanessa Reynolds when the message for help was received.

Rowe was asked to assist with the call, and contacted police in B.C. to relay the information.

“It helped that Vanessa Reynolds’ friend (PC Rowe) was in the contact centre at the time and was able to use her contacts to get information and we were able to work it out in the end and we were delighted to hear from an officer in Canada that they had been found and were being given the help they needed,” Surrey Police contact centre operator Ellie Benson said in the news release.

“It was a great Christmas coincidence and I’m delighted that it had a positive ending. It warmed the heart on Christmas morning.”

Rowe said in the release that she was in the Surrey Police detachment kitchen area when she was approached by Surrey Police supervisor Jake Boatman and several other dispatchers.

“I was advised that a 23 year old female had contacted the Surrey Police Facebook page, believing that she was communicating with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Facebook page, located in Surrey, British Columbia. She was clearly distraught, and having suicidal thoughts,” Rowe said.

Rowe said she reached out to colleagues in Toronto, before speaking with a dispatcher at the Vancouver Police Department, and then ultimately speaking with a Surrey RCMP dispatcher.

“By the time we had managed to get through to the Surrey Dispatch Centre, additional information was provided to us via Ellie, who had been instrumental in eliciting critical information about this particular caller,” Rowe said in the release. “The RCMP call taker was able to immediately identify the female through their computer system, and dispatched two officers to her home address. Once this had been confirmed, the phone call ended from our end.”

Within a matter of minutes, Rowe continued, Surrey RCMP sent Surrey Police a Facebook message, saying that the woman in distress had been located and taken to the hospital.

Benson said in the release that Surrey Police receives a number of message from people who have mixed up Surrey, U.K., with Surrey, B.C.

“This just goes to show that where saving a life is concerned borders and time zones don’t matter and we will do what we can to help our friends in blue around the world,” Surrey Police assistant chief Const. Nev Kemp said in the release.

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