Address Changes Could Slow Emergency Response

Monday, March 16th 2009, 10:16 pm
By: News On 6

By Jennifer Loren, The News On 6

OOLOGAH, OK -- Families in Rogers County could be in danger because emergency responders don't have their correct addresses.  How many people and who exactly is affected is still unknown as the details of this massive mistake are still unfolding.

At the Oologah-Talala EMS Center, ambulances are ready to go to the next emergency, but dispatchers will be asking the next caller for two addresses.

"The dispatchers will get the previous address, make sure that we get the crossroads, that we know the crossroads, and then their new addresses, and try to get them there," said Chelsea Dispatch Supervisor Deana Moss.

According to Rogers County officials, there have been several address changes in Rogers County over the last few months.  Exactly how many is unclear.  People have been getting letters notifying them of their new house numbers and even street names.  But, it appears no one notified first responders of those changes.

"It could be a dangerous situation," said Chelsea Dispatch Supervisor Deana Moss.

In fact, just last month the fire department was called to the old address of the Oologah-Talala School because a sprinkler alarm had activated.  Firefighters responded to the address they were given, two miles north of the school and found nothing.  The next day teachers discovered flooded classrooms.

"To the best of our knowledge, at this point, there has not been any kind of a serious outcome. Nobody has been hurt. There's been no excess property damage, nothing like that," said John Wylie with Oologah-Talala EMS.

Residents who've received address changes are encouraged to make sure their first responders know it.  Meanwhile, officials continue to sort out all the mistakes.

Earlier this month a home burned to the ground near Oologah because of a dispatcher's mistake.  That mistake was human error and had nothing to do with the changed addresses.