October 19, 2007 Features & Images » Feature Story

Preventing preventable deaths 

Twelve fatalities in nine months on Pemberton roads has first responders speaking out

click to enlarge The Message about driving responsibly seems to have been lost on some people.
  • The Message about driving responsibly seems to have been lost on some people.

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Additionally, Inspector Norm MacPhail is planning to deploy fulltime highway patrol resources in Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton. While Cpl. Vadik is proud of his detachment’s record, he is the first to admit that with only four officers, they are under resourced and this move will be a huge benefit to the area.

“We’re such a small detachment we’re limited as to what we can do. We do the best we can with the resources we have. Geographically, we serve one of the largest areas of any detachment in the province.

“We go from halfway up Highline Road, halfway up the Hurley, halfway up the Meager, 70 km up the In-SCHUCK-ch Forest Road and all the way to Green River. If you went border to border to border to border it would take you all day to patrol.”

One of the most dramatic aspects of this strategy is the plan to hold a reconstruction of a live accident scenario later this year, to be coordinated by Pemberton Fire Chief Russell Mack.

Chief Mack describes essentially what is educational theatre.

“You would stage an accident. You’d get some wrecked cars. You’d get some patients, put them in the cars, dress them up, make them look pretty bad and then you’d respond to that call. Say the RCMP is first on the scene, they’d give an update, ambulance comes in, fire department gets there… the coroner… we show what happens.”

As the incident is being attended, Chief Mack or Deputy Chief Christian Staehli would explain what is going on.

Mack thinks the exercise is very effective because it engages all of the senses.

“I think the visual part of it is really important. It really drives it home.”

While events like mock accidents have a powerful impact, the fire chief thinks there are simple things that can be implemented immediately.

“What the police have to do, and I know they have, is step up their program for speeding tickets. It gets people’s attention. And the fines nowadays are substantial.”

Chief Mack thinks that speeding may be easier to address than drinking and driving because of what he calls the “it will never happen to me syndrome.”

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