When time is critical, will public safety personnel be able to find your home? Basic life support on scene in six minutes or less of the event’s occurrence and advanced life support on scene in ten minutes or less of the event’s occurrence yields the greatest opportunity for survival of a cardiac or respiratory emergency. In other words, 9-1-1 called immediately; dispatcher receiving and dispatching the call expeditiously; the fire or EMS unit receiving the call and responding within two minutes; units using the quickest route to get to an address; and units being able to find your home are all vital components of emergency personnel reaching your loved one in time. Any breakdown in this sequence will lengthen the time from an event’s occurrence to a unit arriving at your home.
I know what dispatchers, firefighters and medics do to keep their times down, as much and as safely as possible. Therefore, I am going to talk to the readers about our responsibility in this process. Calling 9-1-1 immediately gets the proper emergency units en route to your home, as quickly as possible. I recently heard about a delay in 9-1-1 being called to a house fire because the homeowner attempted to fight the fire before calling for help. Remember, your job is to get out and stay out. Enhanced 9-1-1 has taken some of the errors out of critical information that dispatchers used to receive. Critical information that a dispatcher needs is your name, phone number that you are calling from, correct address of the incident and type of emergency.
On the other end of this process is the ability of emergency responders to find your home, once they get to the street that you live on. Is there one mailbox at the end of your driveway, or are there multiple mailboxes and houses that share a common driveway? Your mailbox needs to be marked on both sides with numbers at least three inches in height. Multiple mailboxes and houses on a common driveway require individual and visible marking of each home. Causing emergency responders to go house by house will delay their arrival. How well is your house numbered? Is it visible both day and night?
Though I did not put this in the above process, can emergency units get from the hard surface road to your house via your driveway? The further crews have to walk, the more time it will take to get to your loved one or the longer it will take to start firefighting operations. Narrow driveways, curvy driveways and excessive trees may prevent fire units from being able to reach your house. Again, the farther away that emergency responders have to park from your home, the greater the delay in executing their function, whether it be fire or EMS.
It is vital that you do everything in your power to give emergency responders every opportunity to find your home or business as quickly as possible, when an emergency exists. You might say that your house would be easy to find if it is burning, not necessarily. What if your house is on Petersburg Street or Gill Street, which have non-connecting sections? Giving the most accurate information to dispatchers will allow them to inform responding units, which will hopefully get them there in the least amount of time. Help them as they seek to help you.