The section of the 401 between Port Hope and Brighton has always seemed to me to be accident prone and that was the section selected for a pilot project to improve the response of Emergency vehicles – especially the Fire Department and Paramedics. The problem has been that in 2015 and 2016 more than 20 per cent of the calls received by fire departments across Northumberland County regarding Highway 401 emergencies resulted in no emergency situation being found, often because inaccurate information was given to 9-1-1 operators. But Cobourg Deputy Fire Chief Gene Thompson led a project to install distance markers every 0.5 kilometres in this stretch and since then, no false calls have occurred.
Cooperating in the project were the fire chiefs of Northumberland County, the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC) and the Ministry of Transportation (MTO). In August 2017, distance markers were installed between Port Hope and Brighton (sample in photos below). These are designed to help drivers more easily identify their location when calling to report an emergency, dangerous road condition, roadway debris or another traffic concern. As an example, Brian Darling told me that on one occasion, he was on a call to an accident on the 401 at the west end of Cobourg but when the Fire Truck got to Grafton with still no sign of any accident, they turned around. The accident was later found to be in Brighton.
At an announcement on Tuesday (Dec 19, 2017), Gene Thompson together with MPP Lou Rinaldi and Mayor Gil Brocanier (representing the County) talked about the success of the pilot program and said that because of this, in 2018, additional signs will be implemented between Northumberland County and the Quebec border. The OAFC and MTO will also conduct a broad public awareness campaign to educate drivers on the purpose of the signs.
The announcement was held in Cobourg’s Fire Hall with good representation from the OAFC, MTO, the OPP and Cobourg Council as well Port Hope’s Mayor Bob Sanderson.
At the Announcement (partial list)
- Lou Rinaldi – M.P.P.
- Deputy Fire Chief – Gene Thompson
- Fire Chief – Mike Vilneff
- Gil Brocanier – Mayor of Cobourg and County representative
- Bob Sanderson – Port Hope Mayor
- John Henderson – Cobourg Deputy Mayor
- Brian Darling – Cobourg Councillor and ex Cobourg Fire Captain
- Suzanne Séguin – Cobourg Councillor
- Stephen Peacock – Cobourg CAO
Note that in a couple of the photos below, the sign seems to be illuminated. That’s because those photos were taken with flash – it shows that with the reflective paint used, even at night they will be visible.