GRAVENHURST — Drivers in Gravenhurst who encounter a Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere (RIDE) Spot Check this festive season may see more than police officers out combating impaired driving.

Other first responders are joining ranks with the Ontario Provincial Police to send a strong message discouraging impaired driving, says a release from the fire department.

“Our firefighters often see the tragic results of someone’s choice to drink and drive when we’re called upon to perform a rescue following a collision, so we want to show solidarity with our brothers and sisters in blue that this is not acceptable here,” said Gravenhurst Fire Chief Larry Brassard.

“Our firefighters would far rather invest our time in spreading the message of safety than putting their rescue skills into action, so this is a way we can do just that,” he said.

“Our officers will be out in force as usual this festive season, and no one should be surprised that we’ll be setting up RIDE Spot Checks morning, noon or night,” said Const. Samantha Bigley of the Bracebridge Detachment of the OPP detachment.

“Having the other first responders join us, sends a strong visual message of unity that we’re all committed to keeping our communities safe,” she said.

The message applies to not just alchohol, but cannabis and other drug uses as well.

Impaired driving, including being impaired by drug use, remains a serious problem in Muskoka. Bracebridge OPP report that so far this year, 136 charges have been laid in their detachment area alone. “Everything our communities can do to prevent even one tragedy is important.”

Gravenhurst firefighters helped police on Tuesday to spread the message about the importance of not being impaired behind the wheel. (Town of Gravenhurst photo)