Black Hawk County requiring rural address signs for emergency re - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Black Hawk County requiring rural address signs for emergency responders

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Residents in rural Black Hawk County are now required to have address signs displayed in their front yards. The uniform, roadside-visible address numbers are in an effort to save precious time for emergency personnel who are responding to calls in rural areas. 

The signs, which are reflective and visible from the roadside,  display the rural house numbers. 

The ordinance, which was originally passed in November by the County, established a grace period until June 1st. The grace period gave time for rural residents to respond to a notice that was sent in the mail, to put in a request for a sign. 

For the past several months, Black Hawk County Engineer Cathy Nicholas has installed more than 2,500 address signs. 

"The goal is to get everyone to have am emergency services sign that it is reflective, that is visible from both sides of the road," said Nicholas.

Nicholas says 4,000 out of the 12,000 residents in Black Hawk County live in rural areas. The feedback from homeowners she's spoken with is generally supportive of the effort by the County. 

Homeowner Glen Davis who's lived in rural Black Hawk County for more than 40 years says the thought of emergency responders having trouble finding his home has crossed his mind. 

"My first thought was boy, this is good," said Davis. "Because then they can find people a lot easier. The only relief we had was the number on our mailbox which some people don't have."

Many in the county already have them installed, but are either fading or have been knocked down. Nicholas says the bottom line is that signs are visible- ensuring first responders can reach residents in an emergency. 

Teresa Diercks, who's been working as a Denver paramedic for 30 years, knows the value of the roadside signs first-hand. 

"They're very helpful, because usually you know you can find the right road,' said Diercks. "But if they don't have the 911 sign at the end of their driveway, we're not sure if that's the house we need to go. Then you're backing up and getting ahold of dispatch again, to hopefully get a phone number to call them to find out which house is theirs, and that's wasting a lot of time, especially if its a true emergency, and someone needs helps right now-it wastes a lot of minutes. 

Diercks say situations where the address is difficult to find, wastes minutes when every second counts.  

"Especially if it's a heart attack or stroke," said Diercks. "Those are very valuable minutes that you don't want to waste, by trying to find somebody. When it could be a simple fix by putting up a sign."

The grace period, during which the County was installing them at no cost, ended June 1st. Residents who still need them will have to pay $50 if they want the County to install them or $20 if they choose to install them on their own. 

To order your sign, either visit the Black Hawk County website or call the Engineering department at 319-833-3008.

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