Dear Editor and Spotlight readers:
I read with dismay the front page article detailing Mr. Meszaros’ plight waiting for an ambulance between Hedley and Princeton.
I have been working for the past few weeks on improving the understanding of dispatch on the complexities of our area.
Our numbering system contains inconsistencies which can create a public hazard; I am working with the Ministry of Transportation to remediate this, but it will take some time to fix it.
In the meantime, the public needs to do all that it can to help inform 911 of their location by including a relevant landmark or kilometre distance from the nearest town.
It is important to remember two things when dealing with dispatch: they are located in Kelowna and they are giving instructions based on digital maps, not personal knowledge of the area.
They are often giving information to a “rookie” sent to a rural area for training, so there may be confusion duplicated by the driver.
Tell them where you live in relation to a landmark: for example, “I live 12 kilometres east of Bromley Rock on Highway 3.” Remember, they do not know you!
Remember there are thousands of kilometers of Highway 3. Your address is repeated again and again between here and Alberta.
Both dispatch and the ambulance driver are using automated maps which do not include your personal information.
We need everybody to work together on this issue so that we do not have a tragic outcome because of these inconsistencies in understanding.
I have included a simple map which I put together which encapsulates the numbering issue which causes confusion.
Note that I have only illustrated 10 kilometres in either direction from the town of Hedley.
Area G director
Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen