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Improved signage helps 911

“You want to send your ambulances to the proper place.”

– Joe Masi

Almost all communities across Manitoba now have 911 service to their area. But sometimes it has trouble finding them – and that’s a concern for safety officials.

At a recent Farm Safety and Health Seminar held in Winnipeg, Rob Brunel said many roads lack proper signage for emergency crews.

The vice-president of Keystone Agricultural Producers said his farm is easy to find because it is near the main highway and well signed.

And while many farmers know how to describe their location and know the legal description of their parcel of land, it might be hard for others to find.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives Barry Todd said the province has numbered every provincial road now to help in the event of an emergency. But he admitted that the numbers could be hard to see.

Brunel said improvements are needed. There are still roads that do not have signage. While these might be roads where no one lives, they are roads where people work. “It would be easier to direct emergency vehicles to fields if all roads were signed,” he said.

Glen Blahey, provincial farm safety co-ordinator said it’s up to the municipalities to ensure signage along the smaller farm roads.

This is something the municipalities are working toward.

According to Joe Masi, executive director for the Association of Manitoba Municipalities, there was a big push for address identification about six years ago.

The association and stakeholders such as Manitoba Telecom Systems set up standards as to how roads should be numbered. The majority of municipalities joined the push even though the addressing system wasn’t made mandatory by the province.

“You want to send your ambulances to the proper place,” he said.

Masi thinks there are still pockets that do not have good signage but he is certain that municipalities are doing their best within their budgeting parameters. “I know the standard is out there,” he said.

The AMM developed the template to be used by municipalities across the province. “I think the intent of the province is to go to a compulsory 911, but the addressing will be left up to the municipalities,” he said.

About 80 per cent of the province is covered by the 911 emergency system.

Brunel said in some cases, that’s not always the best thing. When 911 is called, the call goes to a dispatch centre in Brandon. The person taking the call is not familiar with all areas of the province. That can lead to confusion when the roads can’t be properly identified.

Masi is aware of the problem, but is confident that most municipalities are working hard to get location identification systems in place. “There is a cost,” he said.

Masi suggested that farmers who have concerns about inadequate signage should take their concerns to the area councillor.

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