In an effort to quicken emergency response time, The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources' Marine Police Division is implementing the use of E911 addresses on Alabama's waterways.
"As patrol officers, we see the need for a program such as this on an almost daily basis," said Scott Powell of the Marine Police. "Many times we respond to a call and someone comments on the length of time it took us to arrive."
Most of the calls to which the Marine Police officers respond are made by citizens to police or sheriffs' departments, or state trooper posts. Even though many times, depending on location, water personnel can respond to an emergency much faster than land-based units, they are hampered by the fact that the only location the communications officers can give the Marine Police is the address from which the call was placed. Because the officers have nothing to reference that address, it's difficult to find the exact location of the call. Marine Police officers carry 911 books for their local areas, but without the addresses posted, they can only find the general area, and must often rely on directions from neighbors or bystanders.
"We have decided that the only way it can be effective is to show people the benefit of using it, and ask them to help us make it happen," said Powell.
Residents can help by making sure whatever address is listed on their home, mailbox, etc. is placed somewhere that's visible from the water such as on a dock or boathouse. It is recommended that letters and numbers be at least three inches high. Reflective letters and numbers are the most effective for night visibility. "The important thing is that they are there and visible," said Powell. There is no penalty for not displaying addresses. "This is simply a way for citizens to help us better serve them." Lake Martin is the first area to try the system, but residents of any other areas are encouraged to display addresses as well.
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, contact the Marine Police Division's Montgomery office at 800-272-7930.