ELMORE COUNTY, AL (WSFA) - Of all the calls volunteer firefighters answer with the Emerald Mountain Volunteer Fire Department, 5 percent are spent trying to find the address. In many cases the numbers are small, difficult to see at night much less in the rain.
"Especially in the areas where people decorate their mailboxes," said Capt. John Gallups.
It is a tragedy waiting to happen.
"It is so important we make sure we can get there as quickly as possible, because time is of the essence," said Gallups.
A few miles away at the Elmore County 911 Emergency Operations Center, dispatchers often have to help first responders figure out just where to go.
Case in point; Elmore County 911 Emergency Operations Center Director Lynn Justiss pointed out a strange arrangement of mailboxes off Highway 231 North; mailboxes with small numbers compounded by the confusion of trying to connect the street numbers to the house.
"We got numbers here, '52.' Of course we can't read them, but even then where do the three mailboxes go?" said Justiss.
In Alex City, Fire Chief Reese McAlister is spearheading a drive to encourage all city residents to grab a free reflective number sign and post it to their home or mailboxes. WSFA 12 News aired McAlister's efforts last week, and we've since learned there's been at least a 50 percent increase in the number of calls from interested homeowners.
Justiss hopes the same will happen in Elmore County, home to around 60,000 residents. Justiss said of all the calls Elmore County first reponders receive on a yearly basis, 25 percent are calls involved difficulty in finding the right numbers. That's why Justiss believes a 911 street address plate can go a long way in saving time for emergency personnel and perhaps in the end save a life.
Justiss said those 911 street address plates can be purchased for $10 at the 911 center next to the Elmore County Jail.