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Lack of addresses in La Porte County delays response times

LA PORTE COUNTY, Ind. -

When you call 9-1-1, you expect emergency responders to be there right away.

But for several residents of La Porte County, that response could take longer.

Officials say, nearly 25 percent of homes there, do not display an address.

Responders say this makes their jobs harder.

And ultimately delays response times.

“We were dispatched to a possible overdose with the subject not breathing. I came up to where it should be and there were three houses grouped together. None of the houses had addresses on their mailboxes. One of the houses was dark. I went to one of the houses that had lights on and it was the wrong house. And I kind of guessed and went to the house with no lights on and that’s where the patient was,” said Kankakee Township Fire Department Captain Chad Weller.

Stories like his are all too familiar here in La Porte County.

“On a daily basis we deal with this problem,” La Porte County Sheriff’s Department Captain Michael Kellems said.

“Probably about half the time we respond to calls the numbers are worn off the mailbox or they don’t have a street light covering their address over the house,” EMT Jake Ott added.

Critical, potentially life-saving seconds are wasted because no address is posted on the property.

“We have the second largest county in the state of Indiana. And it takes time to respond to a call. And when you add 5 and 10 and 15 seconds to trying to track down which house it is in a row of houses because it’s not properly marked, we have a problem with that,” Kellems explained.

For years this has been a problem.

Now, emergency responders are taking action.

Volunteer firefighters across the county are making reflective signs to give to residents.

They cost $15, take less than 10 minutes to make, and can be seen from half a mile away.

“When the house is on fire we can pretty much find it. But it’s all the other calls, the medical calls,” explained Kankakee Township Administrative Chief Tom Thode.

Posting your address is required by La Porte County ordinance.

Addresses must be reflective or the opposite color of the building.

Numbers must be at least three inches high.

And if you receive a violation notice—you have 30 days to act.

Otherwise you could pay $25 a day until that address is posted.

Neighbors said it is a no brainer.

“It just helps them out and it helps us out,” said Jared Koselke.

At least nine volunteer fire departments in La Porte County make these reflective signs.

They are Springfield Township, Scipio, Westville, New Carlisle, Pleasant, Center, Kingsford-Union, Kankakee, and Noble.

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