CHINOOK - Imagine if your spouse or child became severely sick or painfully injured, you heard an elderly neighbor yelling for help, or you just witnessed a serious car accident in front of your home.
In such instances, a person's first reaction is to call 911 for assistance. Now imagine after making the call, the police officer or the ambulance crew is late - not because they are unreliable, but because they cannot find the address you gave them. If you're lucky, they may pass by the location and you can flag them down. But what if you live on a very long road and many folks are not familiar with the order of the house numbers?
Thankfully, local fire departments, such as Chinook's Pacific County Fire Protection District No. 2., have created a project to alleviate this fear.
While it's usually rather easy for firefighters to spot a fire from yards away, only about five out of the 60 annual calls District No. 2 receives are actual fires. Medical emergencies are more typical and can be nearly impossible to find without clear, concise directions and clean, visible house address numbers. While serving calls in Chinook is fairly easy because of their familiarity with the town, District No. 2 Emergency Medical Technician Les Colvin says locating calls becomes more difficult in areas around the Bear River, Wallicut River and other locales outside the Chinook town limits.
Colvin states there have been countless times when he could not find the house from which the emergency call came and sometimes only found the residence because someone went outside to flag him down. While it may not seem like much, it can take only several minutes of delay to cost someone their health, or possibly even their life.
But now, for a low cost residents can have a reflective, bright blue address post installed in front of their house to notify emergency crews of your street address.
For homeowners who aren't interested in receiving an address pole, District No. 2 Chief Brad Wilson says they should display their own legible address numbers in a visible spot.
"One of the worst things people do is put up house numbers that are nearly the same color as the house," explains Wilson. "Some people paint the numbers in a neutral tone because they think it looks nice, but it's very hard for us to see at night. Sometimes we can't read them because they're too small, a couple numbers have fallen off, they're covered by a shrub or the homeowners took the numbers off when they had their house painted and they never put them back up."
To have a reflective address post installed in exchange for a small donation or find out more about volunteering with Pacific County Fire Protection District No. 2, call Dan Todd at 777-8797.
Established on Dec. 13, 1937, the Chinook Fire Department started out with 27 members. According to a Chinook Observer article published the following week, residents Lambert Olp and Ed Elm lead the effort by acquiring equipment donations from area companies.
Henry McGowan donated a shed for one fire cart, Otto Nelson offered the old Pt. Ellice ticket office as housing for another, the North Beach Transportation company turned over the fire cart used on the old railroad line and Ilwaco donated the old schoolhouse bell for an alarm. The Chinook Packing Co. furnished a truck to pick up the donations and about 17 local men assisted in gathering the equipment and setting up the sheds while others donated the lumber for constructing the tower to house the bell.
Tuesday night the Chinook chamber of commerce met in Knutsen's store, formed a volunteer fire department and set the rest of the week aside for soliciting funds for more equipment. By Wednesday noon $40 had been raised and according to Mel Leback, one of the local firemen, the Chinook Packing company had agreed to match any amount of hose purchased by the department up to 300 feet.
Later on, the department received an old barracks building through a donation from Fort Columbia. The building served as the fire hall for years until the existing hall was built in 1992.
Chief Wilson and firefighter Dan Todd say the toughest fire District No. 2 has battled in its history was the Christmas Eve cannery fire in 1995. Many firefighters still remember the cold east wind that day that prevented the fire from spreading.
Just as it did during its creation nearly 70 years ago, the department still has more than 20 dedicated individuals, including one part-time paramedic, one EMT and three first responders. Currently covering Chinook, China Hill, Megler and surrounding areas, the department is in the process of changing and expanding the district's boundaries to include more rural areas.