Hamilton joins Farm 911 program to help emergency responders locate rural properties quicker

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Published January 8, 2024 at 1:11 pm

Farm 911 and the Emily Project

The City of Hamilton is launching a new initiative aimed at improving emergency response to vacant farmland that doesn’t have a municipal address.

The Farm 911 project assigns a unique number to vacant parcels of farmland that don’t have a civic address, helping emergency responders identify these properties quicker, improving response times during critical situations.

The initiative, also known as ‘The Emily Project,’ is inspired by a tragedy in 2014 when seven year-old Emily Trudeau fell from a tractor on the family farm in Hastings County north of Belleville and died when emergency teams could not find the farm in time to save her.

The Trudeau farm did not have a municipal address, making it “challenging” for emergency responders to locate her fast enough.

Farm owners have to enroll in the program, and the City, along with police, fire and paramedics are strongly encouraging it to ensure future outcomes will be different, said Hamilton Mayor Andrea Horwath.

“I want everyone in Hamilton to be safe, no matter where they live. If you own a remote or rural property, please sign up for Farm 911.”

Emily Trudeau, 7, died in 2014 when paramedics could not find her rural property in time to save her

Those who enroll receive a red and white address sign installed prominently at the existing field access point, making it easier for emergency services to locate the property quickly. The signs and installation are free of charge.

“I strongly encourage anyone who owns vacant agricultural or rural property to participate in the Farm 911 – Emergency Access Point program,” added Hamilton Fire Chief David Cunliffe. “This program will provide our firefighters a way to quickly identify the access points to these properties when seconds count.”

Urban residents take a civic street address as a matter of course but on rural properties such as farmer’s fields, there is no address to guide emergency personnel, who have only the caller’s description of the location.

Northumberland Country was the first to come on board in support of the project in 2018, with the municipality developing a rural civic address system that can be used as a blueprint across the province. Northumberland was followed by Hastings, Durham Region, Haldimand County and more than a dozen other municipalities in Ontario and more and more yellow rural 911 signs are now showing up along municipal sideroads.

“Participating in Farm 911 ensures prompt access to individuals requiring our help when they need it the most,” added Hamilton Police Chief Frank Bergen.

The launch of the initiative comes at the same time as the city’s fire department and the Province are urging local farmers to get electrical systems – the source of 40 per cent of all farm structure fires – in their barns inspected.

To learn more about Farm 911 program and the Emily Project and to enroll, visit www.hamilton.ca/addressing.

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