Part 2 – Pocahontas County 911 Center and Emergency Management Updates
In Part one of our interview with Mike O’Brien, the Director of both the Pocahontas County 911 Center and Emergency Services, he talked about improvements in the emergency radio system being brought about by adding a new microwave communication system between the 911 Center and Snowshoe and about the steps being taken to upgrade the 911 Center’s Computer Aided Dispatch – or CAD- System.
Here in part 2 of our interview, we start by asking Mike about how the 911 Mapping and Addressing project is coming along.
“There are always people needing addresses” Mike told us. “We’re always changing over roads. There is a couple of road disputes we are trying to get straightened out. The nice thing about our 911 Mapping and Addressing, our new phone system we are looking at has mapping built in. So immediately when someone calls 911, it will immediately pop up on a map –if their address is accurate and they are using the correct address – where that house is at, which house is calling 911, we’ll see it on the map. That’s a new feature we’re really excited about and look forward to with our new system. Currently our mapping is a standalone system that we use and we have to actually manually type in the address and look it up from the Alley Link (program) when somebody calls 911. So it will be nice to have one system with everything almost together. I’d like to remind everyone the importance of having their 911 address posted – not just on their mailbox, but if they have a long driveway it would be nice if they had it at the road at the end of the driveway where emergency responders can see it coming from both directions or if the house is visible from the road in front of the house. That’s very important, it saves time in your emergency when emergency personnel are trying to find you. I noticed that several of the GPS Companies –Garman and MapQuest –are beginning to show up more.”
We asked Mike what kind of numbering should a homeowner use to display their address.
“At least 3 inch tall lettering” replied Mike. “Be nice to have something reflective, something that doesn’t blend in with your house, something that stands out, that’s easy to see from driving down the road at 35-40 or 50 miles an hour are able to pick out those numbers and see em. It’s very important to emergency responders.”
Has the new RAD at Snowshoe had any negative effect on the 911 Center or Emergency Services?
“RAD hasn’t” answered Mike. “I think RAD will be a benefit to Snowshoe, it will definitely help the fire department, it’ll help public safety. There was some talk about some RAD funding for some law enforcement officers up there. Snowshoe is the city on the mountain. Hopefully it will benefit from an emergency; fire department; EMS; public safety standpoint.”
Mike wanted to talk about the new Hazmat Spill Trailer they just received and about the effect of the Pipeline on the County’s Emergency Services.
“We did receive a grant for a new hazardous materials response trailer” said Mike. “ What that is, well have clean-up stuff on that trailer in the event of a fuel leak – mainly that’s our biggest threat. And with the pipeline, that’s something that’s a concern to us, so the State felt it was feasible for us to get a trailer for hazmat response.”
“I see the pipeline; I see our call volume going up. Obviously when traffic increases on the roads, there’s potential there for accidents. It will definitely have an impact on us, I’m not sure what yet. Hopefully it doesn’t, but we are prepared and ready. They have a safety team that’s committed to communications with us. We have a really good working relationship with their safety team and they’re as prepared as they can be on all levels for an emergency during pipeline construction and after. With the pipeline construction, I know it’s easy to drive down the road and try and see what’s going on and just a reminder to be careful . When you start looking off in the distance, that’s when accidents happen. Slow down and keep your eyes on the Road.”
Thank you Mike for providing some good information and advice.