Chargers promote safety messages

Duane Hicks

“If you’re texting, who’s driving?” “Arrive alive, drive sober.” “All aboard for safety.”
“Stop the stigma. Talk about it. Start a dialog. Break the silence.”
These are all safety messages Safe Communities Rainy River District is promoting at its new phone-charging stations that have been placed at the arenas in Fort Frances, Emo, and Atikokan (and soon in Rainy River).
Rainy River District EMS deputy chief Chad Buist, who’s also on the SCRRD board of directors, said he saw phone public charging stations while visiting Toronto and thought it would be “a unique way to bring a safety message” to Fort Frances and other parts of Rainy River District.
The SCRRD loved the idea and purchased four portable phone charging stations—each of which can charge up to eight mobile devices of various types (i.e., Apple, Samsung, Blackberry, etc.) at once.
“We decided to put them in the arenas because we thought that was probably one of the best bangs for our buck, traffic-wise,” Buist noted last Thursday—the day before EMS distributed the charging stations to the three arenas.
The stations are being put in areas where there’s seating.
“We want to make sure people don’t leave their device there and take off,” said Buist.
For example, at Ice For Kids Arena here, the charging station has been placed near the cantina.
The charging stations each sport safety messages that are geared to the communities they’re placed in.
“We used some statistics, EMS-wise, based on the types of calls we’ve had to try and focus the message in that area,” Buist explained.
“The messages came out of our strategic plan that we had last spring,” said SCRRD chairperson Linda Plumridge.
“They identify the four major areas of concern.”
For example, Emo’s message is about rail safety, Rainy River’s is anti-drinking and driving, Fort Frances’ focuses on texting and driving, while Atikokan’s promotes mental health.
But these panels are interchangeable so the messages eventually can be swapped between different communities to keep them fresh.
“We hope that seeing the messages brings to people’s minds that we have to be aware of being safe all of the time,” said Plumridge.
“Sometimes all we need is a little bit of a reminder—we get complacent about things that we do,” she reasoned.
“We tried to have positive messages—‘If you’re texting, who’s driving?’ and ‘Arrive alive, drive sober’—because they’ve found that people react better to positive messages,” Plumridge added.
“Safety is something we’re very proud of and we’ve worked on for a long time,” she stressed.
“We’re trying to reach the broadest number of people, recognizing that cellphones are being used all of the time.”
She also noted arenas draw many users—both local and from out of town.
Both Plumridge and Buist said they have no doubt the charging stations will be popular.
“I am sure they will be used,” said Plumridge, noting she’s seen first-hand how charging stations have become more common in larger centres, like Minneapolis.
“There’s no more public phones anymore, and everyone’s got a cellphone but data just sucks up the battery,” agreed Buist.
“No more excuses for kids saying that they can’t call home from the arena,” he added.
Plumridge thanked all of the district municipalities that support Safe Communities, both financially and by getting on board with its community safety messages.