NorthStar begins 911 sign program in unorganized territories

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FARMINGTON — Homes without visible addresses create problems for emergency responders, David Robie, director of NorthStar ambulance service, told Franklin County Commissioners on Tuesday.

Three unorganized territories, Madrid, Salem and Freeman, are of special concern because of the large amount of space between homes, and the fact that less than 50 percent of those have numbers visible, Robie said.

The ambulance service, with help from AmeriCorps volunteer Heather Rhinhart, has started a campaign to sell bright blue signs with white numbers starting later this month or early in June.

Many of the homes rely on old mailbox numbers and mailboxes that are not necessarily located in front of the house, making it very difficult for any emergency responder to find them, he said.

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To provide ambulance, fire or police responders with the location of a 911 caller, a telephone number needs to be linked to a physical address that identifies the location of the phone. Many communities created new address numbering systems in response to the state’s acceptance of an Enhanced 9-1-1 system.

The project will use news releases, direct mailings and house-to-house visits to reach as many people as possible to promote purchasing and installing the easily-seen signs, he said.

The charge for the signs will be $8.50. There’s no profit for the ambulance service, he said. The price is intended to cover the cost of the plate and numbers while the rest of the work is covered by volunteers.

Some homes may require more than one sign to bring them into compliance with the statewide Enhanced 9-1-1 service. Signs may be posted on trees and posts when homes are not visible.

Robie did inquire if there were any county funds that could help cover unexpected expenses. He was assured that funds for signage are available for 911 in the unorganized territories.

“My hat’s off to you. I know what you’re up against,” Commissioner Clyde Barker said. “It’s a thankless job.”

Robie said he just wanted to make commissioners aware of what they were doing.

The project will work out of NorthStar’s Phillips base. Anyone interested in obtaining a sign may call there at 639-3830. The base is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. but if personnel are on a call, people may leave a message, he said.

abryant@sunjournal.com

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