Lack of clear addresses a problem for first responders

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, October 14, 2015

When first responders waste minutes locating a residence due to lack of a pasted address, it can mean the difference between life and death. “It’s beneficial for the public and us. If it’s a cardiac emergency and they need medical help, one minute can mean everything. We’re here to serve the public and we want to be as quick as we can in doing it,” Barry Lee, training officer and captain for the Picayune Fire Department, said.

Tom Milar, a code enforcement officer for the city said when Pearl River County went to the 911 system the county passed a requirement that reads in part:

“You must post your address number at the end of your driveway and on your structure in four inch reflective numbers.”

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Country Administrator Adrian Lumpkin said the ordinance is not enforced.

“Everyone is told when you get a permit that you are told to mark it, but we really don’t have the personnel to go around and check it. That ordinance has been in place for a long time before I’ve been there. Not many people have brought it to the board being a huge issue. I know it makes their job (first responders) tougher though,” Lumpkin said. “I can discuss that with the board. I’ll bring it up with the board and well discuss it.”

Lee said he recently noticed that there were a number of houses he encountered that lacked properly posted addresses.

He said it poses a problem for the first responders, especially in the nighttime hours. He also noted that it is easy to see a blazing fire, but when responding to fires in their infancy and medical calls first responders need to be able to see the address.

“It’s of great importance for the residents to display their numbers on their mailbox and their homes address for the first responders. Also, reflective numbers would be easier for us to see. This would be helpful for police, firefighters and ems workers,” Lee said.

He went on to say that there are some instances when firefighters can’t locate a residence and he added just about any street in Picayune has a home that is improperly marked.

“They make us figure out which house it is. Sometimes we even have to ask the dispatcher to ask the caller to come outside so we can find out which house it is. For those who have their numbers properly displayed we are grateful, but for those who do not have their information properly displayed, it is in their best interest to get those numbers on the address,” Lee said. “The quicker we can find the home, the quicker we can get there and help people, but if there is no number it increases our response time and makes it harder to help.”