Police, Paramedics Struggle to Find Addresses in Emergency in One Community

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

NESQUEHONING, PA - When a call comes into Carbon County`s 911 center in Nesquehoning, dispatchers know exactly where the call comes from.
Paramedics and police officers know exactly where to go, unless the call comes in from the Coxeville section of Banks Township.
That's where homes don't have organized house numbers and street names.

"You cannot locate a home on this road," says Mary Novotny, who lives on Route 93.

She had to step outside to flag us down when we came for the interview. Her mail box number is 123. But her house number is 2, and it's hard to find with addresses that seem to jump around.

Novotny says police cruisers and ambulances often look lost when they`re on their way to an emergency in Coxeville.

"Several times I`ve seen one slowing down riding the side of the highway, looking, trying to find the residence," says Novotny.

"It could be life or death," adds Carbon County 911 director Gary Williams,  "If somebody`s having a heart attack, you don`t want them to go out into the street to flag an ambulance down."

We checked with 911 centers throughout the region and in every County except Carbon, emergency managers told us close to 100% of the homes and businesses in their counties were mapped.

The exceptions: isolated hunting cottages, or rural roads that have one or two homes.

No county claims it has an area the size of Coxeville that is not addressed in the 911 system.

Public safety officials in Carbon County say they don`t know of any cases where someone`s health or safety was jeopardize because of a slow response.

"It is luck," replies 911 Director Williams. "But I think going forward they need to fix their addressing."

That can only happen when Banks Township Supervisors approve the authorization of a plan on the books.

Twice we tried to talk to board chairman Walter Bobowski, and fellow Majority Supervisor Theresa Shott. We even left messages. But they did not return our calls.

"It is a medical necessity," says Mary Novotny, who worries about her neighbors in Coxeville, whose 80 homes remain without an organized addressing system, "I`d say 60 of them are elderly senior citizens, some of them with serious conditions."