House numbers, like toilet paper are something we all take for granted. The item is something that is always there and never given much thought, until it is needed. Even when we utilize the services of the wonderful invention of TP as many affectionately call it, we never give it much thought, maybe just that we are thankful we don't have to use corn cobs or Sear's and Roebuck catalogs. Numbers placed on homes to identify locations for 9-1-1 service should be the same, put it up and forget about it until it is needed. Unfortunately, something as easy as nailing a few numbers up is often neglected in the area.
Recently the topic of ways to force residents to put the numbers up was discussed at a Sharp County Quorum Court meeting in which Dick Lloyd, Sharp County Fire Service Coordinator brought to light issues regarding the desperate need for the numbers to be placed on homes. With much of the population of the area living in very rural locations and a large population of elderly, ambulance and first responders have experienced some very real situations with not being able to locate homes, at times in extreme medical emergencies when time is of the essence. Imagine, a loved one having a heart attack or any other life threatening emergency and calling for an ambulance. The numbers on your home could ultimately mean the difference in life and death. Area 9-1-1 coordinators offered their ideas and input on the subject, but unanimously, representatives from both Izard and Fulton Counties agreed it isn't something people can be forced to do.
Fulton County 9-1-1 coordinator, David Keck, said that the county's 9-1-1 addressing doesn't pose as much as a problem because the system has instantaneous mapping integrated into the system. He went on to explain when a call comes into the system, the operator takes the address. Keck said each and every address in the Fulton County system is apart of what he called the 528 system. For example, Keck said if your house number is 245 Spring Street that means the house is exactly 2.45 miles down Spring Street and because it is an odd number, the home will be located on the right hand side of the street. Although visible numbers make it even easier, the system does not rely on these numbers. Keck said the department does advise numbers at least 3 inches in height to help emergency personnel. He said the numbers can be on a mailbox, on the house, on a sign in the yard or even on a tree as long as they are visible.
Sharp County 9-1-1 operators are also urging residents to put up the numbers on their homes and in the driveways. Angel Lesley, Sharp County senior dispatcher said, "This is for their own good."
Regardless of the advantages, purchasing and putting up numbers at a relatively low cost could mean the difference in living and dying in the event of an emergency. Officials urge residents who have not done this to please put up house numbers in a visible location to help emergency workers do their jobs if the need ever arises.