“Who in their right mind is burning, we have a fire ban on!”
Blair Smith, a newly minted GM district manager in northern Ontario was enjoying the view on his drive home. It was a beautiful day, the roads were bare, and the sun was beaming through the trees, the perfect drive. Suddenly, he noticed smoke beyond the bend.
“As I turned the corner, I noticed there’s a car on fire.” Blair was the first one on the scene and knew exactly what to do.
“I drove past that car on the side of the road, and I could feel the heat from inside my car – So I pushed the OnStar*1 Emergency button.” Pushing the red button instantly connected Blair to an OnStar Emergency-Certified Advisor*41 who notified first responders. He was comforted by the speedy and gentle demeanor of the call. “It’s very calm, you push the button and they’ve got you. They’re there with you.”
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When Blair noticed the driver of the vehicle was safe, he drove down the road to warn oncoming traffic. Cars coming from around the turn weren’t able to see the burning vehicle and might have got a little too close for comfort. “I’m on the road 5000 km a month,” Blair travels for work a lot as a GM employee, “and I come across crashes where the police have already been there, but I know if nobody’s there, that’s what the buttons are for.”
Being up north provides its own challenges when tragedy strikes. The roads are long, and the lack of milestones could make it difficult to communicate your location to a 911 operator. Blair and the burning vehicle were on highway 17, surrounded by forest, so OnStar’s GPS location services helped dispatchers locate his vehicle*44.
Blair was just getting comfortable with his route and wouldn’t be able to tell a dispatcher where he was located. “I didn’t know the mile marker, the county - I sure as heck didn’t know the nearest cross roads!” He added, “it’s just trees, and water and pavement.”
Coming out of the experience knowing the driver of the burning vehicle made it out alright, Blair had time to reflect.
“It was just interesting to see how quick everything came together. Our services are some of the best out there.” The next county was 40 minutes away, and they arrived on time to put the fire out before it got out of hand. Blair chuckled over the phone, “I don’t know how people don’t take this in their car!”
This was Blair’s first time using the emergency button, but he was no stranger to the help an OnStar Advisor could provide. He routinely makes practice calls with his god-daughters to make sure they would know what to do in an emergency situation. “I don’t want them to think pressing the button is wrong.” Blair explains, the advisors on the other end are always happy to run through situations to help prepare them for anything on the road.
We share our Good Samaritan’s stories to create a more confident community of OnStar users and Advisors, it’s at the core of what we do. We encourage others to be Good Samaritans and share their stories, because if everyone knows what that little red button is truly capable of, we can all be safe out there.