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.