The director of Area G is asking the Ministry of Transportation to do something about the address numbers along Highway 3 near Princeton, Hedley and Keremeos that can be confusing for ambulance drivers and police officers.
“The main problem is that numbers increase in value from either side of Hedley (from Princeton to the west and Keremeos to the east) but the place they ‘change direction’ is not the town but 10 kilometres west at the Stirling Creek Bridge,” said Angelique Wood, Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen Area G director.
She knows of two incidents within the last five months where first responders and ambulances were unable to find the victim needing help, and she said there are likely more instances she is unaware of.
Rather than placing blame on emergency services or dispatch, she would like the Ministry of Transportation to address the ‘oddities’ of the numbering.
There many be a rationale for that location to be the place for the numbers to switch directions, but it isn’t marked, she said.
“A driver unfamiliar with the area passes from properties marked in the 3000s to properties marked in the 6200s in less than a kilometre.”
Since the numbers – apart from at the switch spot – correspond roughly to the kilometres travelled, this leads to a great deal of confusion, particularly if the ambulance driver or police officer is racing to the scene of an accident. This has also led to U-turns by ambulances and missed calls.
“It would make more sense if Hedley was the ‘0 point’ so when people passed the town they would realize why the direction was changing.
“It’s pretty common for the numbers to go up and down, east and west of a town.”
Often new ambulance drivers are sent to rural areas like Princeton or Keremeos to do their training, so they don’t know the area well, Wood said.
Address numbers are repeated along Highway 3, changing up and down at towns along the way.
If callers don’t give detailed directions to their house – such as the nearest town or landmark – it is difficult for ambulance dispatchers to tell where they are, Wood said.
She urges everyone to give as detailed directions as possible to avoid confusion.
“It’s a real problem. So far I don’t know of a fatality because of it, but it could happen.”