In January 2005 it took 45 min for EMS to respond to a 911 call (stroke emergency) in Big Country. We nearly lost one of our own because emergency responders – helicopter, ambulance, and fire – could not find the house they were seeking. Why?
- Problem #1: North Hay EMS was already on a different call so intial responders came from the city of Austin and were not familiar with our area.
- Problem #2: The “official” map of the responders was not up to date.
- Problem #3: The house number sign was 20 ft off the road, not reflective, and on a tree.
Fortunately, the incident turned out OK. But it left not a few people frustrated and it dramatically points out a very real problem: addresses in Big Country and Heritage Country are hard to find. Our isolated location already means relatively long response times and we can ill afford additional lost time while responders circle the neighborhood looking for an address. It literally is a life or death situation.
Tips to Improve Emergency Response Time
Emergency personnel provided a list of suggestions for us to follow:
- Send someone out to flag down and direct the EMS and F.D. to your house. After calling 911, call a neighbor or two to help.
- Install a flashing light switch for your porch or gate light to draw attention to your house in an emergency.
- Standardize all reflective street number signs, using minimum 3in high reflective numbers.
- Make sure that your road is properly listed in MAPSCO. This is the offical map utilized by the F.D. and EMS. (We have already contacted MAPSCO for corrections, including the addition of Heritage Country subdivision, street names, and the Sundown/Scarlett Ridge “disconnect”.)
- Erect a sign at the Trail Driver “Y” indicating the number sequence for each direction from the Y
Items 1, 2, and 3 are up to you. The Big/Heritage Country Neighborhood Watch and Big Country Neighborhood Association are already working items 4, and 5.