Within the next several weeks, Day County emergency manager Wes Williams plans to send out letters to township officials asking them to help update the county’s GIS map listing of all the current E911 addresses.
Earlier this year Williams, with help from the highway and sheriff ’s departments, began updating the county road map, marking off roads that are closed or are now underwater.
With the completion of the addressing phase, county law enforcement, firemen and ambulances will be dispatched to a scene via the most direct route relying on rural E911 addresses.
“We want to make sure that if someone calls we get the right address,” Williams explained in an interview last week, “By updating the maps we can be sure that our rescue vehicles are on the same page when someone calls about an emergency.”
Williams, who began checking the accuracy of rural addresses a few weeks ago, has already found 70 sites that don’t have an E911 rural address. He estimates the county has about 1,600 rural E911 addresses.
“This is more of a proactive project than a reactive one,” he continued. “We had a lot of new construction in 2012, consequently it’s been the busiest year for E911 addressing since I started here.”
Williams notes E911 addresses are more than just residences. He said radio and wind towers are assigned numbers as are grain bin sites, power substations and cemeteries to name a few.
“Basically any place someone might call from for emergency help needs an E911 address,” he said.
His office is also working on identifying and assigning addresses to boat ramps and lake accesses.
Williams explained that landline telephones have E911 address, but that’s not the case with cell phones, which can prove problematic in certain emergency situations.
“Cell phone signals go to the first repeater tower they find,” he said. “Sometimes cell phone E911 calls get answered by a dispatcher in a surrounding county. Then those calls are usually forwarded to Watertown (Day County’s dispatch) who contacts whichever service thatis required.”
But Williams noted that when a neighboring county dispatcher chooses to take a call and dispatch it, there is a possibility that the dispatcher may not be aware of the local road situation which could lead to delays if rescue units have to backtrack.
“That’s why I would encourage anyone thinking about a new house or building to contact our office so we can get them into the system,” he said. “Even if you haven’t started building yet, we can go out and GPS the driveway and assign an address.”
Williams said his office treats all E911 addresses as confidential information, noting future plans are to update town E911 addresses.
“If you think you might need an E911 address or want further information, give me a call at 345-3222 during business hours,” he concluded