Association asks residents to clearly mark their homes

May 11, 2001

Association asks residents to clearly mark their homes

By STACEY DANZUSO / Staff Writer, Chambersburg

The American Heart Association and local emergency agencies are asking residents to clearly number their homes - a simple step that could mean the difference between life and death, officials said.

As part of Operation Heartbeat, a campaign devoted to increasing the survival rates of people in cardiac arrest, the AHA is promoting visible house numbers as one way to get emergency personnel to the patient as quickly as possible.

"Proper house numbering will decrease response times and save lives," said Nan Hancock, a registered nurse and chairman of Operation Heartbeat, at a Thursday informational session organized by the Franklin-Fulton Division of the American Heart Association.

Doug Bitner, president of the Franklin County Emergency Medical Services Council, said green or blue reflective signs with 3-inch tall numbers are the best solution.


"Most people post their number for friends and family, but decorative numbers get painted over or wear out over time," Bitner said.

He identified "ganging mailboxes" together as another problem common in rural parts of the county.

In some cases, all of the mailboxes for one community are clustered on the roadway across the street from the homes. Although the mailboxes may be numbered, Bitner said rescue personnel often waste valuable time trying to figure out which houses they correspond to.

"The mailbox numbers help us get in the area of the house, but we need a number on the house," he said.

He pointed out that time is especially critical in cardiac calls.

With the geography of the county, response rates vary from 5 to 25 minutes, he said. But the survival rate of a cardiac patient decreases between 7 percent to 10 percent each minute that help is delayed.

"Not every emergency call can we see smoke or fire - we don't see a big glow in the sky to tell us where to go," said Tom Bigler, chairman of the Franklin County Fire Chief's Association and chief of the St. Thomas Township Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association.

He said if a fire truck bypasses the location of an emergency because it was not clearly numbered, it can take two or three minutes to turn that truck around.

Other representatives at Thursday's meeting included Bryan Stevenson, communications coordinator of Franklin County's Department of Emergency Services, and Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Ed Asbury.

Hancock said the American Heart Association recommends residents:

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Post a sign with 3-inch reflective numbers that is visible from each direction or at the very least use a sign with contrasting colors.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Put the numbers on the mailbox and house.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Make sure the numbers can be seen during the day or night and during all weather conditions.

She also urged residents who are unsure of their house number to contact their municipal office or the Franklin County Planning Commission.

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