Scattered around Montmorency County are driveways marked with green reflective signs showing the residences' house number on them, but there also are many driveways without these helpful signs. A 911 advisory committee has been working on a project focused on notification and proper addressing of houses to make it easier for emergency personnel to find residences when an accident or crisis occurs.
"Because we're so rural, we don't have a lot of properly marked addresses in the county," 911 Coordinator Donna Baranyai said. "We need to make a higher awareness about the issue. Unfortunately most people don't think of it until they have an emergency."
The committee is in the beginning stages of looking at ways to increase awareness of the sign posting and would like there to be some uniformity in the placement of these signs, such as at the end of a driveway, to make it easier for emergency responders to locate the home of someone in need of assistance.
"If you live on a private road or trail we would need the signs at the end of that road to help us locate the residence," Baranyai said. "We need to educate the public about this issue."
Emergency Medical Technician Julie Long said it's common for Tri-Township EMS to have difficulties locating an address when the house number for the residence isn't easily visible from both directions.
"I'd say in about every two calls out of 10 we have trouble with the address. They're just not labeled well. If we pass it, we have to circle back," Long said. "Some of the numbers on mailboxes are on the side the mail comes, so if we're coming from the other direction, we're still going to be looking for the numbers."
In an emergency situation, seconds can be critical. Visible house numbers at the end of a driveway, especially in rural areas, can allow EMTs and fire departments to more effectively locate the emergency.
Tri-Township EMT and paramedic Eric Wylie said the fire department has the same problem finding addresses.
"The house number should be clearly marked for both sides of travel, preferably at the end of the driveway, and be visible," Wylie said. "The longer it takes us to find someone in an emergency situation, the worse it's going to be for them as far as the outcome. There's a reason we run lights and sirens: because every second counts. If it takes us one or two more minutes it could make a huge difference when you're talking a time is tissue damage issue. Every extra second is too long.
Baranyai said the committee is hoping to work with area hardware stores to have the signs in stock and at a reasonable price for community members looking to install the 911 address signs.
The 911 reflective signs are available online for around $20-$30 and can cost around $60 for a full installation kit for a mailbox pole.
"We're hoping to make the signs available at local stores," Baranyai said. "We're also looking into getting volunteers together to help with sign installation for those who would like to have the signs, but might not be able to install them on their own."
The installation of these address signs are a work in progress, but ultimately they would benefit the community, allowing emergency workers to find people in need faster and conduct emergency services immediately, hopefully saving more lives in the process, officials said.
Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.