First responders, in most cases, have a fair idea of where they are headed to when a call comes in from the county. From EMS to volunteer firefighters, to our Sheriff’s Deputies and even Paris Fire; however, there are times when the response is unnecessarily delayed.
When a call for help comes in, there is always someone at the ready to respond. But now, responders are becoming delayed for two reasons, the first being missing county road signs, the second, numbers not clear and readable on mailboxes.
Ed Handley recently told of several calls that came within the Powderly VFD response area that were delayed. Though they were medical calls, he said both the volunteers and EMS personnel that responded were delayed more than once because they were unable to read house numbers.
“One call we went on recently, we were delayed as we couldn’t see the house number clearly on the mailbox. Unfortunately, it’s not just one or two houses; it appears to a lot more than you would think,” Handley said.
When it comes to mailboxes in the county, although most residents have numbers on one side, first responders are asking people to have their house numbers on both sides of the mailbox large enough to read.
You can obtain big numbers with reflective edges from places like Walmart, Home Depot, or any hardware store relatively cheap.
But what about those missing County Road signs?
According to Pct. 3 County Commissioner Ronnie Bass, there has been an increase in theft and/or removal of county road signs, and he says it costs taxpayers money to replace.
“We have road signs for a reason, so people know where to go to visit a friend or family member and for first responders to know which road to turn down to get to a call. It’s so important for citizens to know where the money is wasted because of a few individuals not thinking,” Bass said.
Further stating that recently, someone had found several county road signs that were taken off poles and discarded in a pile off the road.
“Sometimes GPS doesn’t work correctly or pick up roads, signs are there for a reason to help everyone get to their desired locations,” he added.
Handley is just as aware of the importance of correct signage, as he said vital minutes are taken from someone in need.
“With first responders going to help other departments, this issue is crucial because we don’t go to calls in those areas outside our own. So having numbers displayed properly would really help improve response times for volunteer departments and all first responder departments,” Handley added.
For first responders, they need to know the average time it will take to not only travel to a VFD department to get gear and vehicles but also the time it takes to get to the person in need. In some areas, GPS and Google maps aren’t reliant, therefore correctly labeled mailbox and County Road signs can be the difference between quick action to help and unnecessarily delayed turn-up.
“If you are caught stealing or damaging a county road sign you will face criminal charges,” said Chief Deputy Tommy Moore from the Lamar County Sheriff’s Office.
He agreed alongside Bass and Handly that precious minutes delayed for first responders trying to find a road and/or home can be detrimental to those in need of immediate assistance.
“Powderly has helped cover and has assisted with just about every department in Lamar county in my last 20 plus years on the department. So just thinking about trying to get to a fire fast, and not having good signs could cost someone their home or worse their life, so please help us help you,” Handley said.