North Shore ambulance service mapping homes
Identifying information for cabins, homes to be used for emergencies
Those who have been living for decades on the North Shore of Conception Bay may remember things being much different than they are now.
Some would likely recall the names of their former neighbours and chatting with them over a cup of tea or baking bread. Some may have been family, others longtime friends.
Now, more homes have been built, people have moved out and been replaced by others and not all neighbours are as close knit. In fact, there are people from all over the world with vacation homes in the region and few know their names.
But how can such a densely populated area, reaching from Kingston to Lower Island Cove, become more manageable for emergencies, especially when many of the residents are seasonal? The plan now is to map the area, starting with Western Bay Line cabins.
Staff with North Shore Central Ambulance Co-Op Ltd. have recognized the changing face of neighbourhoods in the region. Ray Dwyer, a 26-year paramedic with the ambulance service, says those changes are obvious to first responders.
Many residents in other outport and ‘around the bay’ communities in the province give directions based on the name of a person who lives in a nearby house.
“Twenty years ago, we’d know everybody in the community,” Dwyer explained. “Now, there are (a lot of) expatriates, seasonal dwellers and cabin owners in the area.”
Dwyer recalls a situation from a short while ago where an emergency was called in, and the ambulance driver did not know the location of the home. It took a while to track someone down who could lead them there.
“When we got there, the guy was just about gone,” Dwyer said, adding they did manage to get there just in time.
This is only one of the issues that Dwyer, h i s col - leagues and the ambulance service volunteers have come across of late. They feel it’s going to get worse with the implementation of the new provincewide 911 system that was due to roll out in December. Late last month, Fire and Emergency Services Newfoundland and Labrador announced the service will go live by the end of February.
“Someone is going to call 911, and then (911 operators) are going to call us or our pager system,” Dwyer explained. “We will (likely) have to call back. Then we’ll have to call the person who called 911, because we’d want to speak to them ourselves.”
The main reason for the extra call to the initial caller is to determine the location, since it may not be possible for someone working at a call centre in St. John’s to know the different communities, according to Dwyer. And the ambulance service wants to save time in the event of an emergency, so they personally call for specifics instead of going through a third party.
The department put a call out on its Facebook page for those with cabins in the Western Bay Line area to contact them with their details, including name, phone number and address.
“When we receive a call for that area, we are not familiar with names or locations,” the post said.
But Western Bay Line is just the start. Dwyer and colleague Terri Lynn Eddy said the intention is to map as much of the area as possible.
They also confirmed they regularly work with the North Shore Volunteer Fire Department, helping out anyway they can. In doing so, they expect the mapping project will be a joint venture.
Dwyer also confirmed the emergency phone numbers, which are printed on magnets and handed out each year, will still be active when 911 comes into effect.
Besides mapping homes, the department is hoping to start a new project this year — building a new garage for the ambulance.
“We could use it then as a warming centre during emergencies,” Dwyer explained. “We’d have a generator, we could put on a boiler of soup.”
The project will rely heavily on provincial and federal grants.
“We are a not-for-profit group of volunteers,” Dwyer said. “We depend solely on fundraising to put forth our services. The grant we receive from government is for wages only.”
There is a handful of emergency response staff, but most are volunteer.
“The extra ( funds) have to come from the general public, from which we have great support,” Dwyer explained.
A telethon takes place each year in April to help with expenses. Details for that event will be made available through the Facebook group.
Anyone who would like to make a donation to the department or help with the identification of cabin and homeowners in the region can call 598-2155.
“Twenty years ago, we’d know everybody in the
community.” — Ray Dwyer, paramedic