Chesterton Tribune

 

 

County orders signs to help 911 responders find locations in parks

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

Union Twp. resident William Pauley came up with an idea that the Porter County Commissioners feel is worth putting up $10,000 for.

Pauley, who described himself as “a private citizen concerned with public safety,” is spearheading an effort to place around local parks yellow reflective 8” x 8” signs that would give GPS coordinates for folks to read off to a 911 dispatcher in case of an emergency.

The idea stems from a personal tragedy that befell friends of Pauley’s when they were running the trails at the Indiana Dunes State Park in January 2012.

As Pauley tells in his story, one of the runners suffered a fatal heart attack while another ran to his car to call 911. The dispatcher asked for the address for the state park, but like many citizens, Pauley’s friend did not know.

Later they found the address for Dunes State Park to be 1600 North 25 East, Chesterton, which is near the entrance but not close to where the victim was.

Although his friend died instantly, Pauley said there were delays that he thought needed to be addressed.

“The key to this whole thing is efficiency,” he said.

Dispatchers are efficient when it comes to having a street address or having a mile marker on the toll road and interstate, Pauley said. But, “what happens if you call from a large or remote area with no address?” he asked.

While camping at Florida last year, Pauley saw a decal that gave GPS coordinates for 911 response and thought he would suggest that Indiana Dunes State Park officials put up GPS signs. He called a meeting and brought on board Porter County E-911 Communications Director John Jokantas.

“We all came to the agreement that we had to do something,” Pauley said.

Following that meeting, park officials installed 31 signs at key locations throughout the state park on trails and shelters and their GPS locations were entered into the county’s E-911 database late last year.

Next, Pauley met with officials from the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore who told Pauley they “have had problems like that” and expressed interest in putting up signs by the hundreds.

Pauley said he has contacted various departments and public organizations who have all expressed an interest in the project such as the South Shore commuter line, Valparaiso Parks, Portage Parks, the County Expo Center, the Porter County Regional Airport, and the Porter County Parks Department, which already has some signs ready to go for Sunset Hill Farm and Dunn’s Bridge parks. They are also being considered for public trails such as the Calumet Trail and the Prairie-Duneland trail.

Helping him in the matter is County Parks Planner Ray Joseph who recently introduced the signs to the county park board.

County Commissioner Laura Shurr Blaney, D-South, said Pleasant Twp. Trustee Jean Oehlman originally turned down putting signs in Drazer Park but has since reconsidered.

Pauley said he is continually getting feedback, and even has heard from places outside of the county like the LaPorte County 911 center.

The letters and numbers on the sign would pertain to the area. For example, the Dunes State Park has the initials IDSP followed by a number and the initials for Dunns’ Bridge would be PCDB.

Costs for each custom made sign run up to $350 to $400 but Pauley said buying the signs in bulk from the supplier will lower the cost which is why he went to the Commissioners.

Pauley’s request was for $8,800, which could produce up to 450 signs. The signs would be free to the municipal units in the County but they would be responsible for installation and maintenance of the sign, Pauley said.

County Commissioner President John Evans, R-North, made a motion the agreement be for up to $10,000 in case more signs are needed. He and Blaney agreed on the motion. Commissioner Nancy Adams, R-Center, was absent Tuesday.

Evans told Pauley he is to be commended. “You saw a problem and you took action,” Evans said.

Pauley said municipalities interested in obtaining signs can contact him at pauleywl@msn.com

or Joseph at the County Parks Department, 219-465-3447.

 

 

Posted 4/19/2013