I am reminded regularly that times have changed. I spent many years riding engines, ladder trucks, ambulances, and the TSO vehicle trying to find addresses on the first attempt. During my career, I spent quite a bit of time in Chester, and I knew Chester like the back of my hand. My first assignment as a lieutenant was at No. 2, on Hull Street, next to the old high school. To say that I was lost was an understatement. It’s funny today, I remember more about that district than I would ever think. Getting lost is one thing, but getting lost on a piece of emergency apparatus when someone’s life lies in the balance is a totally different thing. You may ask, what brought you back to this? Thank you for asking. On the Saturday before Mother’s Day, our church decided to deliver flowers to all of our mothers. We live in the day of Google Maps and other mapping apps that do well at getting us where we need to go. Let me say this: I have had GPS lead me astray or get me close, but not get me exactly where I needed to be. On that Saturday, GPS got me close, but there were a few cases where my wife and I had to figure out which house, and even had to make the best guess on one. Emergency apparatus have mobile data computers (MDC), as well as GPS, but there are some addresses that are just hard to find. My question to you: Is your house one that will be difficult to find in an emergency?
Things have changed a lot over the years. When I first started in the fire service, we were using map books and then map cards. Map cards were 5-by-7 inch cards that contained more valuable information than you might believe could appear on a card that size. Everything from addresses to hydrant locations appeared on those cards. In the last 5 to 7 years of my career, the MDC showed up, but even though technology was improving, there were still addresses that were hard to locate. Some people intentionally want to live off of the grid, even in Chesterfield County. Today’s technology has made things better, but there are still hard-to-find places. When minutes count, you want emergency apparatus to find you as quickly as humanly possible.
So what can you do to make your home and address more findable? Picture this: I went down a long driveway the other day, and the two addresses off of the driveway were very well marked. On the other hand, I went down a paved road with four different addresses and really had to guess which house was the right house. There were no numbers on the house that we were going to. If it had been nighttime, I do not know that I would have found it. Likewise, emergency apparatus could be one or two houses away, but can be tremendously delayed simply because they do not know the exact house. If your home is one of those difficult ones to find, you must do everything to make it easier..It is to your benefit or the benefit of your loved ones for your driveway to be well marked with your address. Then, it is just as important for your yard or house to have the numbers marking your address. Describing your home may be necessary. The more information that you give the Emergency Communications Operator, the better the chance you will be found on the first try.
What if you live on a street that has multiple broken-up sections, or may have the same name with the only difference being Street, Drive, Place or whatnot? When this problem exists, it is vital for the ECO to determine which street is the right one. There are two Reedy Branch roads in Chesterfield that are relatively close to one another. The difference, other than location, is that the addresses on Short Reedy Branch Road have four-digit numbers, and the numbers on Long Reedy Branch Road have five-digit numbers. The same is the case for Rhodes Lane versus North Rhodes Lane.
Finding you or your address is important to a police officer, firefighter or medic. If you are hard to locate, the delay could have a detrimental effects. Do your part to make your address as visible as possible, whether it be day or night. It is not about aesthetics, but about being practical. You cannot make your numbers too big, especially when your address is off of the beaten path, per se. For me not to find your address is no big deal today, but for that emergency worker, it is critical. Help cannot begin until the help finds you.