Split Second Decisions: What will it take?
Written by Mallory Biering   

In certain circumstances, split second decisions are made when it comes to saving lives, but if emergency personnel is unable to find a person in need of care, due to the lack of 911-emergency signs posted outside of the home, then the only person left to blame would be the resident residing in that home. However, after speaking with citizens of the community, maybe citizens are not the only ones to blame for the lack of signage.

An interview with the director of the 911 Emergency Services of Bamberg County was unable to be obtained , as was a recommendation on another leader to speak with concerning the issue, but thanks to the world wide web, some answers were found.

Citizens not only call 911 for an ambulance--they call for fires, domestic abuse, missing children, rapes, drug deals, fights, and so many other situations. If a person calls a 911 line, and stays on the line long enough, their location will register on the map available to the operator, which can help aid any emergency service locate the person in need of help. However, this does not happen all of the time.

Doug Kirby, Assistant Police Chief of the Bamberg Police Department said some of the older officers do not really have a problem finding homes because of the knowledge of the community and the people in the community, but the department just added two new officers. He also stated, "Depending on the shift and the neighborhood, there could be a problem."

Emergency service leaders stated that they do tell citizens to make sure they have the proper 911 addresses when they arrive on scene. Martha Hammett, Operations Manager at the Bamberg Rescue Squad, Inc. stated their team often runs into situations where they cannot locate a home because a 911 address sign is not posted. Hammett also explained that just because your house has visible address numbers, does not mean those numbers correspond with the correct 911 address.

Will Martin, Manager for the Bamberg County Board of Public Works also depends on the correct 911 addresses when assisting the community. He stated when asked about the addresses that, "there were times when those addresses would really help them out."

When more research concerning enforcement of the policy and why the issue has not be addressed sooner, we received answers like, "I have been told there isn't enough time or money to enforce it," or "Ya know, I really don't know who I would even ask about it. Do you know who I'm supposed to ask?" The lack of knowledge on how to receive a 911 address is clearly not just a problem for citizens, but also the leaders of this county.

These comments brought other questions to the drawing board. If there is not enough time or money to enforce the policy, then why has this not been made aware to the citizens? If some emergency services are stating their concerns, why are they not being addressed? Will it take someone dying from a heart attack, a person being raped, or a child being trapped in a burning home, all resulting in death, because emergency services were unable to reach a house that did not have the proper 911 address, before the time and money is found to enforce the policy?

The citizens of the community can help emergency services, but they first must know how to go about the process. Therefore, until the requested interview has been given to the press for a follow-up story, the press would like to refer citizens to the Bamberg County website: http://www.bambergcountysc.gov. There, answers for frequently asked questions are given concerning the 911 addresses. If a question that needs to be asked is not on the webpage, citizens may call (803) 245-4313 for further information.

The Advertizer-Herald made several attempts to contact the fire department, as well as the Bamberg County Sheriff's Department for their input concerning the 911 address problems they may be having in Bamberg County. A follow-up story will have the answers have the needed answers that may help save the lives of the citizens of Bamberg County.