As frustrating as not being able to find an address is for emergency responders, i.e. the ambulance crew, firemen, and law enforcement personnel, the real danger, of course, is to those who need rapid emergency assistance. While few of us “plan” on calling for an ambulance or the fire department, such occasions do arise.
A typical situation occurred the other day – the ambulance was called for a medical emergency, and the crew was faced with either a never installed or missing street sign at an intersection. Was this the road they needed to turn onto? Driving to the next intersection to verify the location would waste time. In that instance a passing resident affirmed the road names, but time was still lost. And of course the house number was either not posted at the driveway or too difficult to find.
People may not be aware that when the fire department or ambulance is called, a sheriff’s or marshal’s deputy or Ouray police officer is frequently able to reach the scene first, and assists in many ways, including guiding emergency apparatus to the correct address. If a call for emergency assistance has gone out and a police vehicle is seen in the area, flag it down – the police officers will help guide the other responders in.
In some parts of the county street addresses were originally assigned on the basis of the nearest county road, which may actually be several roads and miles away from the physical location. As private roads have been assigned names, addresses should be changed to those roads. An ambulance could cruise the county roads all day without finding the house numbers for locations several miles off the county road.
We can all help. Make sure your house number is posted at your driveway entrance (as well as down the driveway and on your house if other driveways or houses are nearby) in a manner easily read at night by an emergency vehicle attempting to reach the scene rapidly. Using a white reflective background and numerals in a contrasting reflective black of about six inches or greater height allows responders to readily identify the correct location. Think of these not in terms of matching pastel or earthy colors blending into vegetation or background, but in terms of numbers that can be readily seen at night when it is raining or snowing by the busy driver of a vehicle going by rapidly, in either direction.
If road or street name signs are missing, bring that to the attention of those responsible, e.g. residents of developments should bring that to the attention of their homeowners’ associations, and then follow up. What is merely frustrating to first responders may be critical to those needing help – let’s make it easier for everyone.
– Richard Wojciechowski, Ouray County