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Local Emergency Services Using Three Simple Words To Help Save Lives

KAWARTHA LAKES – The Kawartha Lakes Police Service and Kawartha Lakes Fire Rescue Service will now be able to save more lives with three simple words.

Recently, both emergency services decided to implement a new App, what3words into their rescue missions and according to Debbie Hemminger, Director of Information Services for the KLPS, who spearheaded the use of what3words, this application has saved lives and will continue to do so.

“I’ve seen reports of it through OPP and other police agencies that this is saving lives and has saved lives, and I can’t see how it wouldn’t continue to save lives,” she said.  “Emergencies can happen anywhere, from an accident along an unmarked stretch of road, along a trail, to an incident at a specific building entrance or industrial area. In an emergency situation, identifying precisely where help is needed is critical in order to get resources to the scene quickly.”

Debbie Hemminger

What3words is an easy way to talk about location. It’s developers, based in London England, divided the world into 57 trillion squares, each measuring 3m by 3m (10ft by 10ft) and every three-meter square has been given a unique combination of three words, a what3words address.

According to Hemminger, the app works offline making it ideal for use in the rural areas of Canada that might have a poor internet connection, such as the Riding Mountain National Park that is enjoyed by hikers, tourists and outdoor enthusiasts.

Every three-meter square in the world has a what3words address, and they are available in over 40 languages.

To demonstrate how easy the app is to use, Hemminger sent an app link to Kawartha411 via text. After clicking on the link, we were immediately greeted with a what3words address. Within minutes, Hemminger described our exact location, where we sat inside of the residential home and what the outdoor surroundings were.

Hemminger noted that before the application was being used by our local emergency services, a snowmobiler was stranded on the lake and was unable to communicate with emergency services on his whereabouts. After the use of many resources and ample time, he was found but if the app had have been in use, the process would have been a lot different, she said.

“Because there is such a big area on the ice, we couldn’t determine exactly where this person was,” she said.  “As a result, it took longer to find the snowmobiler and get him the help he needed, with what3words, we would have been able to send him a text message, have him click on the link and we would have had the three words within the three metres of where he was.”

The local emergency services were inspired to incorporate the app following the successful use of the system in the UK and Australia. The Kawartha Lakes Police Service and Kawartha Lakes Fire Rescue Service in the City of Kawartha Lakes are encouraging members of the public to download the app and be ready to provide their what3words address in an emergency.

 

“Using what3words addresses gives callers a simple way to describe precisely where help is needed and allows emergency response crews to get resources straight to the scene,” said Hemminger. “It has helped to rescue people from a range of incidents including locating victims of rural road accidents, people trapped in floodwaters, kidnap victims and critically injured hikers and cyclists.”

According to Hemminger, emergency services are often forced to waste time and resources trying to locate the person in need of help.

“At best, this can be frustrating, and at worst waste crucial minutes that are the difference between life and death,” she said. “Prior to using what3words, heavy resources would have to be dispatched in order to locate the incident.”

Every month, people all around the world struggle to communicate their location to emergency services. This leads to crucial minutes and sometimes hours lost when trying to save lives, said Chris Sheldrick, CEO of what3words.

“It’s exciting to hear that the City of Kawartha Lakes Police Service and Kawartha Lakes Fire Rescue Service control room is starting to use what3words and we are looking forward to working with them as they embrace new technologies, like ours, to help save lives,” said Sheldrick.

Hemminger noted that this new app will change the outcome of many life-threatening situations.

“For anyone who finds themselves lost, injured or in need of help in an unfamiliar location, trying to communicate where help is needed just using visual descriptions of what they can see, or trying to remember what direction they were heading, can be very stressful,” she said. “For the person taking the call in our control centre, the information is not always accurate and this can make coordinating the appropriate response very challenging. Our control room team can now ask for a precise what3words address, or send an SMS with a link to what3words to a caller who doesn’t know where they are, meaning we can save precious time responding to emergencies and helping callers much more easily.”

What3words can be downloaded for free at the app store, for more information visit http://what3words.com.

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Jennifer Walker
Jennifer decided to study journalism after having a life long passion for writing. She began her career as a reporter for the Uxbridge Times Journal and moved on to freelance work for various publications after her and her husband welcomed their daughters. She has been published in various Durham Region newspapers, the Durham Parent Magazine as well as Equine Wellness. Jennifer continues to follow her dreams as a wife, mother and journalist and is so excited to join the team at Kawartha411.

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