OTTAWA - Operation Lifesaver has its wheels in motion, launching a cross-Canada campaign to promote public safety with a new educational vehicle.
The vehicle, nicknamed OLEV (Operation Lifesaver Educational Vehicle) is Operation Lifesaver's newest tool in a national effort to reduce crossing collisions and trespassing along Canada's railways. Emblazoned with the red lettering of Operation Lifesaver's slogan "Look, Listen and Live," the impressive recreational vehicle will be rolling into venues across the country.
Literally, a classroom on wheels, OLEV will be fully outfitted with the educational material and interactive technology Operation Lifesaver now uses to help get it's message out to the public. The vehicle will have wireless high-speed internet and is equipped with DVD and CD players, a laptop train simulator and a projector for use at outside events..
"We'll have everything available to deliver our message," says Dan Di Tota, Operation Lifesaver's national director. "It's all in one box, you just have to drive up, park it and open it up. It's all right there."
OLEV will be ready to roll this fall. The official launch takes place today at Operation Lifesaver's annual conference in Aylmer, QC. The conference allows stakeholders and partners to assemble and hear presentations from key spokespeople.
"OLEV will give us the ability to give extra attention to areas and venues across the country that may not have had full exposure to Operation Lifesaver's safety campaign," Di Tota says. He hopes the roaming classroom will deliver their message to wider audiences in areas with limited resources, and in areas where a certified presenter is not available.
Having OLEV cruise into high-profile events will also increase rail safety awareness across the country. He hopes OLEV will be seen in future events like the Santa Toy parade, the Calgary Stampede and the Grey Cup.
"What better means to promote Operation Lifesaver's message than to have a moving billboard?" says Andre Verner, Operation Lifesaver volunteer and certified presenter. Verner is one of the volunteers who will be boarding OLEV, driving to venues and making presentations. "This vehicle will even serve its purpose on the road, reminding highway drivers to be careful at crossings."
Verner worked on the railroads for 38 years, and is the 5th generation of railroaders in his family. He's seen and heard about a lot of terrible and preventable accidents along Canada's tracks, and is glad to be a part of Operation Lifesavers successful nation-wide effort to promote caution and common sense around railways. But, he says, "there's still work to be done. People have to be more informed."
"I think it's a good educational tool to get around in," says Ryan Elias, marketing director at Triple E Recreational Vehicles in Winkler, MB. "It's comfortable for visitors but it is professional as well." Triple E assembled OLEV, and is also a contributor to Operation Lifesaver's campaign.
"We probably get one or two requests a week from people who have some kind of an organization that wants a motor home," says Elias. Triple E decided to financially contribute to this project because, "this one seems like a good cause and a good program, a well-run program."
The spectacular educational tool wouldn't have been possible without the hard work of Operation Lifesaver volunteers, and a wide spectrum of sponsors. The Railway Association of Canada, Transport Canada, CN, Canadian Pacific Railway, 3M, VIA Rail and Teamsters Canada Rail Conference are some of the supporters of OLEV.
In 2003 there were 72 people killed and another 72 people seriously injured along Canada's tracks.
All the preparation will be worth it, Di Tota says. "This will be a great opportunity to reach out to the community."
Director of Communications
Railway Association of Canada