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For safety reasons, all properties need to use 911 addresses
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Pictured is the city limit sign just north of Great Bend on U.S. 281. This area is called North Main in some addresses that are actually outside of the city limits, causing problems for first responders. - photo by RUSSELL EDEM Great Bend Tribune

 Barton County established its 911 addressing system in 1989. But, as the county’s mapping system is much more advanced now, it has become more noticeable that some areas of the county have not been addressed correctly, Barton County 911 Director Dena Popp told the County Commission Monday morning.

The issue, she said, there are residences and businesses that are outside the city limits using City of Great Bend addresses. This is causing problems getting the law enforcement and medical service departments with the correct jurisdiction to these locations.

“It’s important that we get this fixed,” Popp said. “This could be affecting emergency service responses.” 

Trouble spots include properties using a North Main address and a West 10th Street address. “We don’t have a North Main or a West 10th,” Popp said.

Boyd Road, Hart’s Corner, Coe Russell Corner are other location nicknames commonly used. A lot of residents assume everyone knows where these are, but that is not the case, she said.

In addition to new 911 or first responder personnel who don’t know the area, using these labels can slow response times.

After the failure of its analog system, the county converted to the state-of-the-art next generation 911 system last year. The NG911 is an internet protocol-based system that allows digital information (e.g., voice, photos, videos, text messages) to flow seamlessly.

This means the amount of data required is much larger than in the past. But, it is hosted at the state level so information on all participating counties is consistent and uniformly accessible.

And that is another issue, said County Cartographer Bj Wooding. She forwards mapping information on to state agencies who will use it if they have to respond to an emergency.

The United States Postal Service is another concern, Popp said. The post office should be using 911 addresses, but that is not always the case.

In order to solve this, there will need to be discussions with property owners and postal officials, she said.

“It’s a very big problem,” Commission Chairman Jennifer Schartz said. It will take a team effort to resolve it.