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Old Addresses Could Hamper Rescue Efforts in Cumberland County

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FAYETTEVILLE — Rescue response teams inCumberland Countysay they are losing precious time when they are called for help. The delay could mean the difference between life and death.

The county's enhanced 911 system is forcing 89,000 county residents to change their addresses from a box and route number to a street and address number. But many rural residents are still displaying old addresses and have not yet filled out change of address forms.

"When people don't have proper addresses, and maybe have old routes and boxes, and their addresses have changed to a street -- a physical location and it's not posted -- then emergency services in that area have a problem responding," says Cumberland County Fire Marshal Ricky Strickland.

Abe Rock owns a lawn mower repair shop. He says he did not know his address was changed. As a result, he has the wrong one listed on his mailbox. Rock says an ambulance would have a hard time finding his shop.

Sara Lewis changed to her new address as quickly as possible because she lives with a disabled person.

Lewis says rescue workers have had no problem finding her house. "If I call the rescue squad to him, because I don't drive, they find it right off," she says.

There is a county ordinance that says the new addresses must be displayed. Home and business owners who fail to do so could ultimately be fined.