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New signs, GIS help Aiken County emergency responders

GIS computer system

Aiken County is looking to improve emergency response time by placing more signage throughout the county and using GIS. (October 20, 2010 / WRDW-TV)

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, October 20, 2010

AIKEN---In an emergency, seconds count when you're calling for help. But they can't help you if they can't find you. There are a lot of streets and long driveways that do not have street names in Aiken County. Now planning officials are working hard to make some changes--to make sure emergency workers get to you and get to you fast.

Leroy Kretzmeier says street signs are important when it comes to safety. "I think it's extremely important to have street names...EMS can't get anywhere without them," says Kretzmeier. He says it's good that Aiken County council members just allowed seven new street signs to go up. "We're older. We are senior citizens and when I call 911, I want them to be able to get here," he says.

Cathy Randall works for the 911 Center in Aiken. The former dispatcher knows the importance of getting to a home quickly. "Emergency responders need to find you and if you are on a long driveway and if they're several houses's difficult to find you." Now Cathy works with the sophisticated GIS system. The geographical informational system helps find and verify roads that need names. "We want you to mark your driveways makes it alot easier to get help," says Randall. Lori Butler has spoken to thousands of distressed callers and she knows how important it is to find long driveways and secluded roads and give them new names. "Life or death is a matter of seconds...that's our main concern," Butler says.

Aiken County has miles of roads connecting rural homes--that means it could take a while to find some homes--and get help to the people who live there. Planning officials say the new street names will help with this. Randall says he has his address clearly displayed. He feels everyone should do this, otherwise "they (EMS) have to drive around until someone hollars at them...and that's not good."

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