More in sup­port of 911 ser­vice


In a re­cent in­ter­view pub­lished in The Com­pass, Bay Roberts Fire Chief Clarence Rus­sell hit the nail right on the head about 911 ser­vice in the area of Con­cep­tion Bay North.

There is a tremen­dous amount of con­fu­sion among the cit­i­zens of this re­gion.

I have had a unique op­por­tu­nity to in­ter­act with sev­eral of these cit­i­zens from var­i­ous ar­eas of the re­gion through cour­ses I was teach­ing. No mat­ter where or when the topic of ac­ti­vat­ing emer­gency ser­vices comes up, there is al­ways in­depth dis­cus­sion among stu­dents.

What I have learned from these dis­cus­sions is that, de­spite the best ef­forts of po­lice, fire, and EMS ser­vices in the area, peo­ple are of­ten left with lit­tle as­sur­ance as to who to call and what num­ber should be used to reach that ser­vice. Also, peo­ple are of­ten un­aware of how dis­patch is han­dled in these ar­eas right now. Some peo­ple were as­tounded to find that when they call for emer­gency ser­vices in their time of need — when they need re­as­sur­ance more than ever that help is com­ing — they have to record their emer­gency on an an­swer­ing ma­chine and hope enough peo- ple get the mes­sage to re­spond.

A study was re­cently con­ducted in the area to as­sess the fire pro­tec­tion of the var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ties. This study was also ques­tioned. One of the main goals of the study was to pro­vide nec­es­sary in­for­ma­tion to im­ple­ment one fully paid fire sta­tion to ser­vice all the area be­tween Bri­gus and Perry’s Cove. They quickly con­cluded that this could not be done and also found that the com­bined bud­gets of all nine com­mu­ni­ties would not sus­tain pay­ing one crew to re­spond on one truck.

Over the years the CBN area has been com­pared to many other ar­eas all over the world for many dif­fer­ent rea­sons. One main rea­son for com­par­i­son is the amount of fire­fight­ing equip­ment avail­able in the area. As is true in so many cases, there are al­ways too many fire trucks when there is no emer­gency, but never enough when you are faced with dis­as­ter.

On an­other note, the CBN area has 13 pumper trucks; New York City has 198. We are hardly com­par­ing ap­ples to ap­ples.

In con­clu­sion, I be­lieve the ad­van­tages of im­ple­ment­ing a re­gional 911 sys­tem far out­weigh the dis­ad­van­tages. It will be tremen­dously eas­ier to train one group of dis­patch­ers than to try and ed­u­cate the en­tire pop­u­la­tion on all the numbers and ser­vices pro­vided right now.

The me­dia cov­er­age that 911 gets all over the world gives it a pos­i­tive per­cep­tion and there­fore would make it an easy sell to the gen­eral pub­lic. How­ever, un­til we are lucky enough to have such a bet­ter sys­tem there are a few things you can do to bet­ter pro­tect your­self:

• post lo­cal emer­gency numbers by your phone;

• check your smoke detectors and prac­tice your es­cape plan with your fam­ily;

• dis­play your street ad­dress so emer­gency ser­vices can eas­ily see it from the road;

• learn first aid and pre­pare a 72-hour dis­as­ter kit.

Fi­nally, if you re­ally want to make a dif­fer­ence, vol­un­teer.

Paul Snow is a former vol­un­teer fire chief. He writes from Har­bour Grace.

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