I was thinking about the old group I used to run called COVERT (Central Ontario Volunteer Emergency Response Team). Basically we did Fire Police duties. Road Closures, Traffic Control, First Response, etc... We were quite successful for a privately funded and operated volunteer response group. At the time we were by no means official. But to the police on scene, it did not really matter. We knew what we were doing, and in some cases we even taught the officers various things about traffic control that they did not know previously. What I mean by us being successful, is that we generally always had work. In 2004 alone, between the months of January and June, we had a total of 58 calls. 30 of which were traffic accidents, 13 of which were structure fires. We generally maintained a steady pace of calls every year. Sadly however we did not record a call list prior to 2004.
View COVERT in a larger map The above is a map of our general coverage area. Generally from the Aurora or Vandorf staging areas we could get anywhere within the square in about 10 to 20 minutes. If it would take us longer then 10 minutes to get somewhere, we usually didn't bother responding unless there was a special request for 'traffic control'. We would only respond to Structure Fires or Fatal MVC's outside of the 10 minute mark, because it is very likely that the road will need closing for extended periods of time. Often units already on scene are more then happy to turn over an extended Road Closure over to us. This 12 Mile by 14 Mile area was the area we were most familiar with. Within this area there was a population of about 200,000 residents. On average there would be 12 to 16 regular (not including Detectives, and Traffic units) Police units within our area on any given night split between 4 Districts. 1 District, 2 District, 4 District and 5 District. We also had a total of 10 firehalls within our area, 2 of which were volunteer. Stations 3-4, 4-1, 4-2, 4-3, 4-4, 5-2, 7-7, 8-1, 8-2, 8-4. A good local Buffalo/Niagara example of the area we covered would be basically central Niagara County. As shown on the map below.
View COVERT in a larger map We earned a hearty respect within the police service. If we arrived on a scene first we were mostly always kept in place until the scene was cleared. If we arrived on scene, and officers were already on scene, most of the time, if there was a need for traffic control, they would pass that off to us. It was rare that an officer would refuse our help, if indeed our help would of made things easier. It is often a lot harder here in WNY. Most of the time, even as an official volunteer, the police will not accept your assistance - even if there is a need for help. That being said, I have had luck with Buffalo Police. They seem to be fairly receptive. Suburban town police departments however, I suppose see many volunteers, as most of the towns around Buffalo are volunteer. And of course I imagine the Police Departments impression of volunteers has been jaded by volunteer firefighters who really do not know that their doing. Having been away from 'the action' for so long, I will have to admit that I am a bit rusty. But hopefully some more training and exposure to various scenes will get me back in the swing of things.