Minden Press-Herald

Sep 30th

Safety in numbers


The 9-1-1 call has been made, an ambulance has been dispatched, precious moments are ticking away but emergency personnel are going door to door to locate the victim of an emergency call.

Unfortunately, many times this is the scene when local law enforcement or emergency personnel are searching for a victim and their home has not been properly identified.

According to Dal Taylor, Director E-911 for Webster Parish Communications District, it's not a huge problem in the parish but it is a problem.

"But," he said, "If you are the one having the heart attack it is a monumental problem.

"Unfortunately not everyone in the parish puts numbers on their house even though there is an ordinance that says they are supposed to," he said.

"If we send an emergency service to a site and there is no number what we try to have at the dispatchers fingertips is a description of what they are looking for... are they looking for a mobile home... are they looking for a two-story house. We give them some description so at night they can find it."

Presently Taylor and his staff are working to verify all parish addresses listed on the new mapping system and what they find often, according to Taylor, is the description E-911 has of the residence does not always match the physical building.

"This is pretty typical in the parish," he said, "a residence might be listed in the data base as a white wood frame but since then somebody may have torn that down and might have a new double-wide mobile home."

Taylor and his staff update their written data when a physical description does not match the written information provided. Although it is eventually possible to find a location by description at night, it is not always easy.

"Because," Taylor said, "I'm going to tell you that if you just put down here a light blue wood frame "house" well at night that looks white and to some it looks gray so we try to get distinguishing marks.

"But the safest thing a resident can do," he continued, "is to put up their numbers.

"I always tell people put yourself behind the wheel of an ambulance at midnight. It's coming to your house and the EMTs are trying to find you and have never been on that street before in their lives. If you have fallen or had a heart attack, you can't be on the road waving them down. Can they find you?"

According to Gary Jones, president of Advanced Ambulance, E-911 has done a great job helping emergency personnel do their job and GPS is wonderful, but the lack of visible numbers or incorrect descriptions can make for a dire situation.

"When we get there and the house is a different color now because it's been repainted or you pull up and there are 19 mailboxes in one spot and there are houses all over the place, that creates a problem because there is no number on the house or the driveway," he said.

Jones suggest numbers be written in plain view on the house, mailbox and the driveway.

"That is not just for us," he said. "What if it's a home invasion and you are able to get a phone call off and 9-1-1 may know what the house is supposed to look like and they know the number of it, but the deputy doesn't know the area (and can't see the house number)?" he asked.

According to information provided by WP Communications District, by law, mailbox numbers must be at least three inches high and rual house numbers must be at least four inches; preferably six inches high. All numbers should be of a reflective nature.

Don't paint over house numbers they are virtually impossible to see at night.

According to Webster Parish Code Section 10-1 (i): "Whoever fails to comply with provisions of the code shall be warned in writing by Webster Parish Police Jury or any parish agency on the behalf of WPPJ and the violator shall be given 30 days thereafter to comply with the requirements.

"Whoever continues to violate after the notice and 30 days compliance period shall be punished by fine not exceeding $50 or by not more than three days in jail, or both."

For more information about E-911 addressing guidelines call 377-9911.






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