Most people assume an address is only for the mail delivery and treat it as such.

On a regular basis, new addresses are assigned. I always advise to make the address visible in case of an emergency. Many times, I receive appreciative responses, then there are times when the responses are not so appreciative.

Responses like “they will know me” or “they all know where I am at” are common. I also hear “let it burn” or even “I don’t’ want an ambulance at my house” and “I’m my own law enforcement.”

What is not common is that the responders know who you are or where you are at without an address that is clearly marked.

Imagine if you will, someone like this who would happen to have an emergency. The same one who said “I don’t want anyone at my house” is now calling because they have fallen and are possibly having a heart attack while home alone. They were only able to advise partial address and the road they live on. I will use “King” for an example.

Dispatch: “911, where is your emergency?”

Caller: “I am having a heart attack I am at 16… King…”

At this point before the caller could say anything after King, they lose conscious, and the numbers they were trying to say were not understandable. They are using a cell service that routed it into dispatch as an administrative call. With these types of calls, no information is provided. No cell tower location, no name, no phone number and no address. This doesn’t happen often, but it happens.

Maybe it’s King Lane in Raymondville. Maybe it was King Street that would be in Houston. Or there is a King Drive in Summersville area, but what if it was King Road in the Dunn area?

The mentality of “they will know where I am” just took a leap out the window. Dispatch will do all they can to locate the caller but without more information it will be a difficult task. The only thing to do is send an officer to every location in the county that may have the 16 and King in the address. This is possible and has been done in the past. Texas County is the largest county in the state, and with many miles and not many responding agencies, this could take hours to accomplish.

Now for the next issue, remember when they were advised to make that address visible for emergency responders? Well, they have decided not to do that. Or maybe their mailbox sits among a group of mailboxes for the area and they didn’t mark their driveway with a stake or sign. For this example, let us say the person was able to tell what their address was, before losing conscious; we have the numbers and the road name. With this information the correct departments will be dispatched. But for the one that said “they will know me” they were not able to provide a name. The responders are driving down the roadway trying to locate the possible address where nothing is marked. There are many long driveways, many houses near the road some have the addresses visible but not all. Dispatch can locate the address on the map and advise the responding agencies where it should be. The emergency responders in the county are very dedicated and diligent at what they do, and they may stop at a few different locations before finding the correct house. In emergencies – especially medical emergencies – every second counts. 

You may be thinking that it is all well and fine for the medical examples that were given but I know the fire department will be able to find me if I have a fire. But will they? Let us take a snowy night, everyone is nice and warm in their homes with the wood furnaces, stoves or fireplaces roaring. Then out of nowhere, it is noticed the chimney seems to be smoking more than it should and smoke is making its way back into the house. A call to 911 is made. It is stated that the flue may be on fire, the address is given then the caller hangs up quickly.

Dispatch has alerted the fire department. These volunteer firefighters have left their warm homes gone to the station, gotten in the fire trucks and are on the way. As the caller is standing outside by their house, down a long driveway, it is noticed that the fire truck went by the driveway. This angers the homeowner, and a second not-so-nice call is made to 911 because they passed the house.

Dispatch: “911, where is your emergency?”

Caller: “This is John Doe and that fire department just passed my house.”

Dispatch: “What is the address?”

Caller: “I just gave you my address earlier and tell them to look for the smoke!”

Dispatch: “Sir, there are a few fires in the county right now with multiple departments working, what is your address?”

When this caller called in the first time, he did not stay on the line with dispatch to answer the rest of the questions, which would have included his name and possible house description. Dispatch tried to call him back, but he did not answer the calls. As for the fire department “looking for the smoke” every house in the area has some type of smoke coming out of the chimney or pipe. As the caller had first stated it was a possible flue fire, and those do not always have a tremendous amount of smoke until it’s too late.

I would suggest everyone have their address (or at least the numbers to their address) at the entrance of the driveway and/or on the residence. I would also recommend that you place the addresses at your separate working farms, seasonal cabins or just your hunting land locations. If you were working at the farm and get injured in the barn or hay field, or maybe you were hunting and conquered that big buck but injured your leg while jumping for joy, the address to the land would get responders there faster to start looking for you.

How does your address look? Are the numbers visible and large enough to see from both directions of travel, during all weather conditions day or night? There are calls that the directions include go past the barn that burned last year and then on down the road around the sinkhole and then turn at the big red barn. Those are great and precise directions, and it helps. However, to get those directions the caller must be able to provide them and if they are unconscious or not from the area the only thing left is to look for the marked address.

On most days, an emergency call is received and all works fine with locating the address. I will note that our mapping system is more precise to Texas County and is maintained in-house. It is not the same GPS as used with most online search engines.

Even with all working perfect, responders in the field still need to be able to see and locate the address while responding in emergency mode. The longest time is the seconds that tick by while waiting for help to arrive.

The Texas County Emergency Services office in Houston is funded by a 3/8-cent countywide sales tax approved by voters in 2013. Assistant director Terra Culley can be reached by phone at 417-967-5309 or by email at terraculley911@hotmail.com.

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