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Port, city hope to protect lives with new waterfront sign system


The Port of Hood River has many names for its various waterfront and land features. The Hook. The Spit. The Marina Beach. The Marina Green.

But not everyone knows those names, particularly the many out-of-towners who come to vacation and recreate in Hood River during the summer months. For emergency responders, it can be frustrating when a caller in distress in the vicinity of one of these locations is unable to provide clear, accurate information as to their whereabouts. Frustrating for the responders and potentially critical for the callers.

To help prevent this situation from occurring, the port has installed a series of numbered signs that serve as emergency access points. Each number on the sign corresponds with a different section of the port property, making it easier and faster for emergency personnel to respond to a call.

Liz Whitmore, waterfront coordinator for the Port of Hood River, said the port was prompted to establish the sign system by Hood River Fire and EMS Chief Devon Wells.

“Devon Wells approached me last year with the request that the port and Hood River Fire and EMS partner and create a signage program that would identify specific emergency access points along the waterfront,” Whitmore said in an email. “The intent is to create a clear system in which a caller to 911 could communicate which access point the emergency was located in.

“If the caller doesn’t know the number, then dispatch will ask a series of questions so they can determine the access point number and location,” she continued. “This should result in a more effective and clear process for emergency responders. In the past, I believe there has some been some confusion about where the emergencies are located on the waterfront and the best route to access the emergency.”

Wells said he has been thinking about the project for a number of years as a way to eschew confusion and streamline emergency response times, which are sometimes hampered by the multiple colloquial names for different waterfront features.

“Some of the users of the waterfront don’t know the names of the beaches,” he explained, “and even some of the dispatchers and responders have different nicknames for them.”

Wells said one particular spot that seems to have a variety of names is the long point of sandy land that runs along the west bank of the Hood River and juts into the Columbia. The port refers to it as The Spit, but Wells says he’s also heard it referred to as The Delta, The Sandbar, and The Sandbar Kite Launch. In one instance, a couple visiting from out of town who had called emergency personnel for help reported they were at the “Hood River Beach,” referring to the dock in front of the Hood River Inn. Wells said the dispatcher who took the call was confused about the couple’s location until the couple finally mentioned they were staying at the Hood River Inn.

Wells said the system well help limit this confusion, but it will be up to waterfront users to take note of the signs to determine the correct emergency access points. There are 25 signs measuring 12 inches by 18 inches, each clearly labeled with a number, 1-9, that designates the specific emergency access point.

The emergency access points roughly run from west to east and are listed as follows:

1.) The Hook

2.) Waterfront Park

3.) Event Site

4.) Nichols Boat Basin/Slackwater Beach

5.) The Spit

6.) Marina Beach

7.) Marina Park/Marina Green

8.) Boat Launch

9.) Hood River Inn (not owned by the port, but listed as an access point)

Port Executive Director Michael McElwee said during the port’s regular meeting last week that even if the signs make only a minimal impact on safety, that’s fine.

“If it makes a difference in one instance,” he said, “then it’s worth it.”

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Those with questions about the sign system can call the Port of Hood River at 541-386-1645.

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shadowjade 2 months, 3 weeks ago

I'm shocked - the port did something positive and helpful for the community? Pigs must be flying and heck hath frozen over.

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