Officials hope system will better pinpoint incident locations
— DEEP CREEK LAKE — A new feature required for docks at Deep Creek Lake could help emergency services personnel respond more quickly to situations on the lake.
In the coming months, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources will distribute a sign bearing a unique number to every dock at the lake. The numbers are individual 911 addresses specific to each dock.
The addresses and signs are intended to provide landmarks for the public and emergency services to pinpoint specific locations on the lake, according to Brad Frantz, director of the county Department of Public Safety and Emergency Management.
Frantz said it’s proved difficult to determine the exact location of people who call for help from cell phones while on the lake. That forces emergency responders to waste critical minutes searching for the correct route.
“Presently, our 911 call-takers get information from such calls that display longitude and latitude,” Frantz said in a prepared statement. “While this gives us a general location … it may not be precise enough to approach the call from the correct road. This can result in delays for fire, EMS or police units.”
Each dock’s location will be plotted in the 911 center’s computer-aided dispatch equipment, which will allow emergency services to determine the fastest route to reach it.
The address numbers will be based on mileage along the lake shore, using the dam as a start and end point. That means that the numbers will reflect each dock’s specific distance from the dam.
The numbering system will be similar to the system used to assign address numbers to buildings. Each one-tenth of a mile equals 100 increments in the address number. For example, a Sand Flat Road home located exactly one mile from the road’s starting point will have an address of 1000 Sand Flat Road.
In the same way, a dock that is exactly one shore mile from the dam will have an address number of 1000.
The dock addresses have no relationship to the 911 addresses of buildings on shore.
DNR will act as the enforcement agency to ensure dock signs are displayed. That agency will also be responsible for maintaining the signs, Frantz said, including rearranging signs if a dock is moved.
The joint project between Garrett County government and DNR will cost approximately $14,000, split equally between the two entities. Garrett County’s $7,000 portion will be paid through an allocation from the state Emergency Number Systems Board’s trust fund. The fund is fed by a fee tacked onto the phone bill of every customer in the state, and the money is only used for 911-related projects.
Frantz said the timeframe for distributing the signs is tentative and based on how quickly the vendor can make them.