Sep 25, 2015 3:45 PM
GOFFSTOWN - 911 calls.
They’re supposed to save lives but in one New Hampshire community, some of those calls are causing more harm than good.
So what's causing first responders to go to the wrong address?
It’s all centers around the Pinardville section of Goffstown and its similarly named 31 streets and the same zip code it shares with Manchester.
Goffstown police officers and Goffstown firefighters are trained how to respond to 911 calls but at the same time, 911 operators at the state’s call center in Concord are trained to direct those calls to Manchester unless the caller tells them their address specifically using the word Goffstown.
When asked if she think it’s realistic, Kelly Crowley, a Pinardville resident who called 911 and didn’t say she lived in Goffstown, told us, “that would have been the last thing on my mind.”
Fire tore through her home at 10 Elmwood in Goffstown although first responders went to 10 Elmwood Avenue in Manchester.
It would be eight minutes until Manchester firefighters would call Goffstown to let them know that Goffstown needed to respond. Two minutes later, Goffstown was at Crowley’s house putting out the flames.
We asked Fire Chief Richard Richard O’Brien what he thought about the eight minutes that went by while Crowley could only watch as her house went up in flames.
“If you want to know how long eight minutes is, try to hold your breath for eight minutes,” says Chief O’Brien. “You just can't do it.”
Bill Chauvette is another victim of this 911 mix-up.
He nearly choked to death all because, once again, the caller never mentioned they were in Goffstown.
We asked Police Chief Robert Browne if someone is chocking, would it be realistic to say if they lived in Goffstown.
He quickly answered, “Certainly not.”
With these latest two incidents happening back to back, public safety officials are now working with town officials.
During a Board of Selectmen’s meeting earlier this week, no one from the public showed up although the chairman of the Board of Selectmen, Peter Georgantas, says change is definitely needed.
“Because we've had no communication with them in three years about this situation,” Georgantas said.
He’s talking about the United States Postal Service.
Three years ago, many business owners overwhelmingly told post office officials that they wanted to keep their Manchester zip code and they got what they wanted.
But now, both the police and fire chiefs say if change doesn’t come soon, there could be a loss of life.
“We anticipate more instances like this whether it be a police, fire or medical emergency that there could be an error that could cost a life,” said O’Brien.
When asked if this could take a tragedy for change, Browne said, “I am really hoping and I'm praying that it never ever gets to that point.”
So we wanted to know what are the solutions.
The options on the table right now include asking the postal service and lawmakers to step in and either change street names or change the zip code.
To read details about the fire at Kelly Crowley’s house and Bob Chauvette nearly choking to death, check out the first part of our series here.
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