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Clever app speeds rescue in Turkey Point

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An innovative cell phone app is credited with directing Norfolk paramedics to an injured cyclist in Turkey Point.

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On June 19 at around noon, someone called 911 to report a cyclist injured on a recreational trail outside Turkey Point.

In a Norfolk County news release, assistant fire chief James Robertson said the caller had no address or landmarks to share with the dispatcher, only that the victim was “at the bottom of a hill, on a trail about one kilometre from the road.”

Robertson said this was Norfolk emergency services’ first opportunity to use a free GPS app known as What3Words.

What3Words divides the planet – land and water alike – into 10’x10’ squares. Each square is assigned three words in a sequence unique to itself. Using this app, people can identify precisely where they are and communicate that according to What3Words mapping.

From an emergency-dispatch perspective, Robertson said What3Words is especially useful because — in a situation like Turkey Point this weekend – the 911 dispatcher can send a link to the caller’s cell phone via text. The caller deploys it, relays the three words that show up, and emergency services know exactly where to go.

“The victim’s location was relayed to emergency crews, who swiftly located the victim, provided emergency care and rapid transportation to the hospital,” Robertson said. “Without the app, the search for this injured person may have taken significantly longer and the victim’s condition could have deteriorated.”

Robertson says What3Words is a great tool for local emergency responders given that Norfolk County has an area of 1,600 square kilometres, most of which is rural and 35 per cent of which is woodlot.

“This is an extremely valuable tool and is anticipated to have a significant role in emergency response in the future,” Robertson said.

“The app also works where data is not available. We’re proud to offer this innovative service in Norfolk County and encourage all residents and tourists to our area to download the free app.

“It may save their life one day. Fire department training on this app is underway. We expect to have all emergency services personnel trained on it within the next three weeks.”

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