Holiday safe-driving service nears 20th year

It’s been 19 years since Operation Red Nose started in Flin Flon. This year, the service is off to a flying start.

Since Red Nose first began in Flin Flon, the service became a well-known entity in the community, sometimes thought of before calling a friend or a taxi.

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The service began for the year in Flin Flon on Nov. 23 and Nov. 24. A total of 11 more nights of service are scheduled, including every Friday and Saturday remaining in 2018: Nov. 30, Dec. 1, Dec. 7 and 8, Dec. 14 and 15, Dec. 21 and 22, Dec. 28 and 29 and New Year’s Eve. Rides are available from 9 p.m. until 2 a.m. every night, excluding New Year’s Eve, when drivers will be available later in the night.

At least one group has volunteered to drive every night thus far, but some nights still have vacancies, particularly New Year’s Eve. Dec. 31 has historically been Operation Red Nose’s busiest night of the holiday season.

“When services are offered in your community, sometimes we don’t pay attention to the impact these services have. I think everyone in this room has, in some way, been impacted by accidents caused by drunk driving,” said Colleen McKee, the City of Flin Flon representative with Operation Red Nose at the Nov. 22 Flin Flon Rotary Club meeting, which marked the service’s start.

“I firmly believe this service has been very impactful in saving lives. I am personally grateful for that.”

RCMP officers, including Cpl. Steve Brushett, attended the kickoff meeting. Brushett said he has seen the impact Operation Red Nose has had on Flin Flon.

“I’ve been in Flin Flon for about six years, so I can tell you from first-hand experience the benefits that Operation Red Nose has for us, as police and as a community,” he said.

“Thinking about my past policing experiences in cities and towns that didn’t have such a program, police resources need to be increased. We’re able to keep our resources manageable, due in part to Red Nose. It’s had an amazing impact on the community. Everyone knows about it. We can’t help everyone. There are people – good people – who make bad decisions. We can’t be accountable for that, but we can be accountable through what we can do for the community.”

In addition to helping community members get a safe drive home, the program raises money for youth programming and organized sports. On average, the amount of money raised through Operation Red Nose for youth groups is in the five-digit range.

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