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Larry Haug saved Kenmare for last and with good reason.
911 coordinator... Larry Haug, the 911 coordinator for Ward County Emergency Management, is ready for his fifth run of the Kenmare streets and avenues Jan. 12 to complete a 911 mapping of the city. Haug said it's critical that correct addresses are linked to Central Dispatch in Minot.
By Marvin Baker
Larry Haug saved Kenmare for last and with good reason.
Haug, the 911 coordinator for Ward County Emergency Management in Minot, has made five trips to Kenmare in the past month, and along with public works director Mike Thompson, has been mapping the community for 911 addresses.
“I wanted to start with the smaller communities,” Haug said. “We’ve been working on this a month. It has been a huge job. Kenmare is the biggest city, but it’s laid out in a good grid pattern. It has gone well. It’s just a difference in volume.”
What he found is that 10 residential addresses in Kenmare are incorrect and he will be proposing they be changed during the Feb. 9 city council meeting.
“It’s not to be critical of what was done in the past,” he said. “But in the interest of emergency response, it’s being done so responders can find them quickly.”
Haug said the places whose addresses need to be changed, will receive a notification letter regarding the proposed change.
“The letter is the first step and once the council approves it, they’ll get a second letter saying ‘this is your address,’” Haug said. “Of course, the homeowner can challenge it. Most people understand the correction.”
As an example, Haug said gone are the days when a police or ambulance crew would get a call saying something like “I’m in the yellow house by the swimming pool with the big willow in the front yard.”
He wants to point out that 911, more specifically Central Dispatch in Minot, only has 911 addresses to go on and guessing can be the difference between life and death. With that in mind, the addresses need to be in a logical place on the map.
“I think the mentality is, ‘everyone knows where I live,’” Haug said. “But there are a lot of new residents and a lot of new responders. They rely on these addresses being in the proper location. If you call the police to report someone stole your garden hose, that’s one thing, but if you’re having trouble breathing, an extra minute can make a big difference.”
Haug and Thompson also found that several residences weren’t listed on the Central Dispatch map, but they are now. As an example, a group of homes in a cul de sac near the One Stop Burger Shop, weren’t on the map.
The final segment of the mapping was done Monday with buildings south of Division Street.
“After that I will conclude my initial map review,” Haug said. “I will then come back with a colored map, but it will have to be verified first before it is implemented.”
Haug admitted that changing an address can be an inconvenience when it comes to certain documents like drivers license, motor vehicle registration or concealed weapons permits.
But mortgages and abstracts aren’t affected by an address change. Those documents are based on the legal description of the property not the address.
“It doesn’t matter to me that they may be wrong, I just need to fix them,” Haug said. “Everything I do is to help first responders get to where they need to be.”
There could be any number of reasons why the 10 addresses are incorrect, according to Haug.
He said the map has been around for years but until one year ago, keeping it current was a part-time job in the Minot Police Department and the computer software wasn’t available to make changes.
It’s possible that old buildings may have been torn down and replacements not set exactly in the same place, but on a different lot, which in turn creates a domino effect from the central point of the city outward.
“As an example, houses in the 400 block may be numbered 800,” he said. “If one is wrong, everything thereafter is wrong too.”
Still others could be out of numerical sequence. For instance the first house on a block may be 400, the next 410, the next 404 and the next 412. He said house numbers should always be getting larger moving away from the central point.
Finally, natural barriers can create issues with first response. A river, big hills, a swamp or thick trees that dissect a street may cause confusion about how to get to a location if the map doesn’t clearly define it.
In addition to correct addresses, Haug said it’s important to have large house numbers that are clearly legible. In other words, homeowners should not have a white number on a white house. It may be subtle on a bright, sunny day, but emergencies don’t normally happen under ideal conditions. Heavy snow or fog could easily make the numbers impossible to read.
According to Haug, there is actually a state building code that requires that a house be marked or, if it is concealed from a roadway, a marker indicating where it is.
“In the country, a lot of people think GPS is the ultimate,” Haug said. “It’s not. It will get you in the neighborhood, but it won’t take you to a precise location. Anything to help first responders is a benefit.”
A year after everything is said and done, Haug will be looking at each community once again to review it in case any changes have taken place.
The second time around, however, the 11 communities in Ward County other than Minot; Berthold, Burlington, Carpio, Des Lacs, Donnybrook, Douglas, Kenmare, Makoti, Ryder, Sawyer and Surrey, won’t be nearly as time consuming.
The correction is now and it may be an inconvenience, but Haug said it’s in the best interest of the entire community.
“The fire department will most likely see what’s going on, but if you’re having a medical problem or there’s an intruder in your house, the problem is not always obvious,” he said. “I can’t over emphasize this enough.” ... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!