Otter Lake cottagers resorted to posting on Facebook for assistance after being told by emergency dispatchers that their address was “not coming up in our system” on May 14.
After 84 year old longtime owner of a cottage on Otter Lake, Doug Pollock, fell and was injured, his wife reached out to family members in the Ottawa area for assistance in reaching emergency services. Pollock’s daughter, Shelly Hariski, said that after calling 911, she was transferred to a CISSSO dispatcher in the Pontiac region.
“I gave them the address,” Hariski said. “And the 911 guy said ‘that’s not coming up in our system’. That was the scary part.”
According to Hariski, the property is on a municipal road, signified by a blue address sticker. The road the cottage is on has numerous other cottages and is approximately 10 km outside of the town of Otter Lake, Hariski added. The family has owned the property since 1974.
“So while I was on the phone for several minutes with 911, my son messaged for help in the Ladysmith & Otter Lake, QC Community Notice Board Facebook group,” Hariski said. “He just wanted to know if there’s somebody in the group that was involved with the fire department or whatever, which there were.”
Hariski said Otter Lake local and volunteer firefighter Natasha St-Aubin reached out through Facebook shortly after her son had made the post in the Ladysmith & Otter Lake group.
According to St-Aubin, she reached out to the family to see how she could be of assistance. Hariski’s son sent St-Aubin the latitude and longitude of the cottage, obtained from Google maps.
“The call came in on our phones with the proper address shortly before the family member sent me the geo location,” said St-Aubin. “I ended up sharing the geo location with the team just in case for reference.”
Medical Officer in charge of Otter Lake first response, Caroline Gagné said that while the CISSSO dispatcher was initially unable to pinpoint the properties exact location, any information the caller provides goes directly to first responders and is used to help locate the patient.
According to Gagné, first responders had the cottage’s location prior to its latitude and longitude being shared on Facebook.
“It’s our job to know where our patients are,” Gagné said. “We really do take pride in knowing our geographic locations and like I explained to the caller, the more information they can give - cross streets or previous addresses or things like that - always helps out and it comes to us. We’ve never not made it to a patient that we couldn’t find.”
“Unfortunately, the CISSSO cannot answer questions related to locations. On our side, we only manage the ambulance service,” said CISSSO Media Relations officer Qeren Boua.
Both firefighters and paramedics showed up on sight and Pollock was taken to Pontiac Hospital in Shawville and later Ottawa Civic Hospital. He has since been released and is recovering.
“We just give our heartfelt thanks to the Ladysmith and Otter Lake community for so many people reaching out and offering support,” said Hariski. “ The firefighters and paramedics did a fabulous job caring for my dad and my stepmom. They were super careful with him to make sure didn’t cause him any more pain than was needed.”
Hariski encourages people to register their properties with Google to help alleviate the possibility of this happening in the future.
Otter Lake May 14, 2023
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