Thanks to the joint efforts of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and the Cowichan Valley Regional District, emergency responders [fire, police and ambulance] now have effective emergency radio communications throughout the entire 53.6km Pacific Marine Circle Route between Mesachie Lake and Port Renfrew to allow better communications during emergency responses on this route.
The launch of this exciting project was hosted by the Mesachie Lake Volunteer Fire Rescue Department on Saturday, Feb. 4 at Mesachie Lake. Mesachie Lake Fire Chief Gary Eve welcomed everyone at the fire hall and introduced the guests.
Rob Hutchins, Chair of the CVRD thanked all the volunteers, saying that the public asks for and expects a quick response to an emergency situation and this is a good news story for first responders who now have the ability to do their jobs better and more safely.
Paul Peters, CVRD Communications Group Coordinator thanked everyone involved, saying there was a true spirit of cooperation on this communication initiative.
Ian Morrison, Director for Area F said there are 20,000 visitors a year that come to this area, with many of them travelling on the Pacific Marine Circle Route, and this is a much needed service for the area.
The Pacific Marine Circle Route is popular with tourists and residents alike who enjoy the spectacular scenery between Sooke, Jordan River, Port Renfrew, Mesachie Lake and Lake Cowichan and is a major alternate route for lengthy Highway 1 road closures along the Malahat. With no cell service along this route, calls for emergency assistance previously could only be relayed via a commercial truck on a company network or by someone driving to either end of the route to report the emergency.
Emergency communications issues were identified on the Pacific Marine Circle Route and an extensive assessment was conducted to determine possible solutions.
This research uncovered the Harris Creek repeater that provides near continuous radio communications and now augments the Central Island 911 radio network coverage. “We greatly appreciate this opportunity to work with the province,” states Paul Peters, CVRD Communications Group Coordinator.
Sybille Sanderson, the acting general manager of Public Safety/ Emergency Program Coordinator thanks all of the people and agencies that worked together to make this happen.
“Thanks to their willingness to work together, emergency responders are now able to communicate along the Pacific Marine Circle Route, greatly increasing their safety and effectiveness when providing emergency assistance.” she states.
Gary Eve, fire chief of Mesachie Lake Volunteer Fire and Rescue is pleased with the launch of the map book and radio procedures that allows all responding agencies—police, fire and ambulance— to be able to communicate while responding to calls on the Pacific Marine Circle Route.
“The maps will be made available to all dispatchers and agencies so we all have the same information in front of us on a call,” he says. “The best parts of this are the dispatchers will have a better idea exactly where we are and we have greatly increased the safety of responders by being able to speak directly to our dispatcher at the fire hall in Mesachie Lake and we also have the ability to place a phone call to any number we want from any point along the Circle Route.
“Paul Peters of Emergency Communications for the CVRD was the driving force behind making this all happen over the last eight months. He was able to bring together the CVRD, the CRD, police from Sooke and Lake Cowichan, BC Ambulance and the Ministry of Transportation to make this project work.” says Eve.