MALONE — Franklin County Emergency Services is asking the public to make house numbers more visible to ensure help arrives at the right address — and as quickly as possible.
A recent rash of chimney collapses and responses to other emergencies brought to light the need for a reminder to property owners that they should display their property numbers prominently so firefighters and rescue personnel can find them.
Deputy Director John Bashaw II said some numbers are posted too low and are blocked by high snowbanks this winter.
Others are not easily visible because dark letters are used on a dark background color.
The 911 dispatchers handle about 65,000 calls every year in Franklin County and will soon take on all calls made to Saranac Lake, Paul Smiths and Essex County’s Town of St. Armand (Bloomingdale), he said.
“There aren’t any real problems. This is more of just a friendly reminder for people,” he said. “We just wanted to get something out to educate the people.”
He suggests using reflective tape or paint on house numbers so they will show up when a light is shone on them at night.
“Some fire departments sell reflective signs as a fundraiser, so check with your fire department to see,” Bashaw said.
The 911 address should be posted at the driveway’s entrance because mailboxes are not always marked clearly either, he said.
HOW TO MAKE 911 CALL
Bashaw said that knowing when to call 911 is just as important as knowing how to do it.
If law-enforcement officers, firefighters or emergency-medical technicians are needed right away, or “if you’re unsure if your situation is an emergency, call 911,” he said.
And he offered these tips:
▶ Listen to and answer the questions asked. This helps the dispatcher understand and assist with the emergency until the appropriate authorities arrive.
▶ Stay calm, and answer all questions, no matter how irrelevant they may seem.
▶ Know where the emergency is, such as the town and county, because wireless 911 calls may be coming into dispatch from a different 911 service area.
“Look for landmarks, cross-street signs and buildings,” Bashaw said. “Providing an accurate address is critically important when making a wireless 911 call.”
CALLS FROM KIDS
Teach children to call 911 and how to dial it on each home phone and cellphone, Bashaw said.
“The child needs to know their name, a parent’s name, telephone number and, most importantly, their address,” he said.
“Tell them to answer all the call taker’s questions and to stay on the phone until instructed to hang up.
“We get a lot of emergency calls from kids, and they are calmer than the adults sometimes,” Bashaw said. “Maybe they aren’t aware of the gravity of a situation, but they do really well.”
‘STAY ON THE LINE’
The explosion of cellphone usage means an increase in false 911 calls made by accidental dialing.
Bashaw said dispatch gets plenty of those kinds of calls and must verify each one to make sure it is not a true emergency, so callers should stay on the line and say the call was made by accident.
“Otherwise, we have to keep trying to get in touch with them to make sure there is not an emergency,” he said.
Bashaw said prank 911 calls “are a waste of time and illegal in most states and will be dealt with by law-enforcement agencies.”
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