Operation Lifesaver (OL) is marking 40 years of saving lives. And to celebrate, we’re profiling some of our dedicated Rail Safety Ambassadors—because Operation Lifesaver wouldn’t exist without their hard work.
Our Rail Safety Ambassadors help us to spread the rail safety message to Canadians across the country. They volunteer their time to deliver rail safety presentations, share our posts and videos on social media, and take part in educational events. By doing so, they help us to prevent rail crossing and trespassing-related incidents.
Patrick Laincy, a constable with CP’s Police Service, is one of our many valued Rail Safety Ambassadors. Patrick spoke to OL about why he joined our team of volunteers and what he tries to achieve in the role.
Why did you become a Rail Safety Ambassador?
I decided to be an Ambassador for Operation Lifesaver because I thought it was important to educate people about the dangers around tracks and trains. When I was young, I went on railway tracks without knowing it was dangerous. I was fascinated by trains—I wanted to go inside them, to climb on them. But when you are young, you’re not conscious about those dangers. You’re reckless. Even as adults, people often want to go around a train that’s blocking a crossing—just to get where they are going faster. That’s why I thought it was very important to work with Operation Lifesaver. I wanted to educate people about these dangers.
What message do you think is especially important to get across to people?
I hope they will understand that it’s dangerous to go on railway tracks. It’s really important to look and listen, and to be vigilant. Tracks aren’t a place to walk. They’re not a sidewalk, or a bike trail. I tell people all the time: “Be careful because a train can arrive quickly. If you walk on tracks with earphones, you won’t hear the train.” And I tell them: “Be careful, be attentive. Only cross at designated grade crossings. This is very, very important.”
How do you reach people with this message?
I often go to fairs and special events such as l’Expo motoneige and Monster Truck rallies―any events where the participants encounter railway tracks. For instance, many snowmobilers go near railway tracks or cross them. So, it’s important to tell them that railway tracks are dangerous. If you’re following a group of seven or eight snowmobiles, a train can be coming and if the first person doesn’t warn the last, someone can get hit. That’s why it’s important to explain the rules and inform people about the dangers around railway tracks. Currently, with the pandemic, everything is virtual and it’s harder to go to events. However, we continue to do our work.
What risky behaviour surprises you the most?
Often, the city will put a passage, a grade crossing, or a pedestrian bridge where people can cross. But people don’t want to use them because it takes five minutes more. They go around the gate, they use a hole in the fence, or they cross the tracks just to arrive at their destination as fast as possible. I also see people on bikes who take shortcuts and take the time to lift their bike over the tracks. Those kinds of things are just reckless. They’replaying with their lives. So, we will continue to repeat and explain until… I hope one day, people will understand.
What sort of difference do you think Operation Lifesaver makes?
I think it’s important to have an organization such as Operation Lifesaver for the simple reason that we need to inform the public. It’s important that people know the dangers surrounding railway tracks. If people are aware of the problems, we can prevent deaths, especially for young people. If we can make young people more aware of the dangers around railway tracks, starting in elementary school, we will reduce the risks. People will start to be more informed.
What do you personally get out of being a Rail Safety Ambassador?
I would say that for me, it’s personal and professional satisfaction. It makes me very happy, because at the end of the day, I feel that I have saved maybe a hundred lives. And I have done my civic duty to protect the public by informing them about rail safety. It’s all about saving other people’s lives and preventing accidents.
Want to join Patrick and OL’s team of Rail Safety Ambassadors from coast to coast? Join us in celebrating our 40th anniversary by signing up today—and help us save lives.