By CARL SMITH
Several Oktibbeha County fire apparatuses are now equipped with new Garmin touchscreen global positioning systems loaded with mapping information from the previous emergency addressing system and the newest, and Oktibbeha County Fire Services Coordinator Kirk Rosenhan said his organization will continue to install them in fire trucks throughout the county.
Currently, Rosenhan said every East Oktibbeha County Volunteer Fire Department first-line emergency vehicle has a Garmin GPS installed, costing about $100 per unit. Golden Triangle Planning and Development District staff installed its new county re-addressing information into the units so firefighters have access to both old and new addresses. The cost of the units, Rosenhan said, was covered by county fire services funds.
“The way it’s set up, we simply type in the address number, and it pulls up every street in the county with that number. We then use the touchscreen to select the right address. There’s no worries about spelling errors because it’s much easier, safer and faster to type a three- or four-digit number than enter a name,” Rosenhan said. “In addition to the new addresses, we’re entering locations of fire hydrants, overhead water supply tanks and information of use to county firefighters and emergency responders.”
EOCVD Chief Greg Ball said the new GPS units will help with response time, a factor critical in emergency response.
“With the old addresses, we knew exactly which way to turn at an intersection based on house numbers and familiarity with the system,” he said. “Things are different with the new system, and these units will help guide us where we need to go.”
The new GPS units are pinpoint accurate within approximately 50 feet, Rosenhan said, and will bring firefighters accurately to emergency scenes.
“With mutual-aid calls, if we’re bringing in units outside of an original response area, they have to know how to get there. You do not just turn those trucks around in some guy’s driveway,” Rosenhan said. “It’s important also for EMS calls and those emergency calls where there are no outward signs saying it’s the right place — people out in the road, smoke from a fire and so on. It’s that ability to get to the exact location regardless of other factors that makes a big difference in what we do.”