On the night of October 12, Rachelle Denbow and her boyfriend Félix Chicoine-Blais found themselves injured and trapped in a car along the highway with no way to call for help.
They were on their way from Montreal to return home to Gaspé. Shortly before 8 p.m., the couple were driving on Route 198 when two moose appeared in the headlights.
“They came running out of nowhere. So, purely instinctively, I hit the brakes. I tried to avoid them,” Denbow said.
“I lost control of the car and we hit the left side first and then crashed [on the] on the side of the right hand. And that was the last impact.”
They crashed along the Beaver Dam Bridge, a stretch of highway along the peninsula between Murdochville and Gaspé that has no cell service.
Denbow says she and Chicoine-Blais were lucky because a car they passed minutes before stopped to help them. She remembers hearing the stranger trying to open their doors.
“I didn’t even have time to find out what was going on. My seatbelt was still tight and he was already knocking on my door [saying] ‘I can’t open your door. I can’t open your door,” Denbow said.
A few minutes later, a car traveling across the highway pulled over to help. Denbow says having two people on the rural route that night was “pretty rare”.
“There’s no cell reception, so they had to drive I don’t know how many miles just to get cell reception,” Denbow said.
She says emergency services arrived on the scene an hour after the accident, with her and Chicoine-Blais suffering from minor injuries.
Three weeks later, while recovering from a fractured vertebra, Denbow stresses the need for better cellphone reception on the highway.
Need for “safety nets”
Denbow says this road is one of two main roads for residents of Gaspé and Murdochville.
She says there is only one emergency phone installed on Route 198 and it is located in the town of Gaspé – a part of town that has cell reception.
“I can’t believe there aren’t more safety nets than this,” said Denbow, who notes that things could have been “much worse,” especially if those helping had tried to move the pair by themselves.
“It’s your neighbours, it’s your family, your teachers who are going to stop on the road and they’re going to help you because there’s no other way to do it,” she said. declared.
André Côté, director of the Murdochville fire department, says the service responds to five to 10 accidents a year on this stretch of highway.
On the night of October 12, he said, the team received the emergency call just before 8:30 p.m. and were able to arrive within 30 to 45 minutes. He says the crash site made the rescue more difficult.
LISTEN | Rachelle Denbow talks about the car accident on Route 198:
10:05Car crash victim waits an hour for help due to lack of cell service in his area
A Gaspé woman is sounding the alarm about the lack of cell phone service in the region, after being the victim of a car accident and having to wait an hour for help.
“That accident, our radios to communicate with the call center were not working. We were out of reach. Same thing for ambulances. Only the Sûreté du Québec was able to communicate 15 to 20 minutes after our arrival. ,” he said.
“Luckily people were conscious and didn’t have too many serious injuries when we arrived.”
He says the lack of cell service occurs “every time there is an emergency response of this nature”.
“One of the most important things”
Denbow says she knew the risks of this route and was driving particularly slowly that night because Chicoine-Blais had gotten stuck in a snowdrift on the highway last March.
“I thought you could make emergency calls on the road, but there was actually no cell reception for anything,” Chicoine-Blais said of that first accident.
“At least I had blankets and enough clothes to get through the night.”
He is grateful someone spotted him and picked him up within 30 minutes, but says the fact he has needed emergency services twice in the past year reinforces the need. cellular service in the area.
“For me, that’s probably one of the most important things we can achieve,” Chicoine-Blais said.
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