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Stephens Co. Revamping 911 Map System

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STEPHENS CO., Okla_ Stephens County is revamping their rural mapping system in hopes of saving lives.

The county has hired "spatial data research" to survey rural areas for telephone landlines and rural route boxes. Nearly every resident with a rural route box will be given a new physical street address, complete with GPS coordinates.

They'll start in the town of Velma and the surrounding rural areas. There, they'll be looking for information from residents and the county wants to make sure everyone's prepared.

"Tight now, if you tried to GPS a rural route box, it won't come up.

You won't be able to find it," Stephens County 911 Director Mark Suson said.

That's precisely why Stephens County is starting over on their rural mapping. Because residents are paying the county for emergency services through their phone bills, Suson said he feels the project is way overdue.

"Since they pay those monies, we are responsible in our mapping project to verify their addressing," Suson said. "If you make a call on a landline, they're going to need some pretty specific instructions."

So, surveyors will hit the streets in and outside of Velma next week to get that information before a dire situation. Landlines will be registered, and nearly every rural resident will be given a new physical street address, which may be the difference between life and death.

"The new addresses that we're giving out have GPS coordinates attached to them," Suson said. "If the dispatcher knows exactly where you are, they can send somebody to that location without explicit instructions from the caller."

People who live within city limits will largely go unaffected, but you need to be prepared.

"If they're in the Velma city limits and they come to a house that doesn't have numbers posted, well they're going to need to knock on that door," Suson said.

Officials recommend posting those numbers so the County can identify your home quickly. They say the information is vital for emergency personnel.

"Anything we can do to make it easier for a first responder to find someone who is in distress is the best you can possibly do," Suson said. "This will just make it a lot easier."

Once you've been issued a new address, both the new and the old can be used for an extended period of time, while the US Postal Service and county update street signs and mailboxes.

Officials to hope to survey all of Stephens County and have the new rural information in place by February.

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