On Aug. 4, 2016, Dickson Mayor Don L. Weiss Jr. and representatives of the city’s emergency services placed the first address marker at the home of Holly and Jeremy Spencer to launch the “Seconds Matter!” campaign to help save lives and property by making residences easier to identify. One year later, emergency services personnel have placed 1,000 free markers in yards throughout the city.
Weiss and local emergency services officials say they are committed to continuing the campaign to reach all of the more than 6,000 residences inside the City of Dickson.
“The inspiration behind the Seconds Matter! campaign remains as important today as it was when we placed that first marker on Murrell Street a year ago,” said Weiss. “When the Dickson City Council endorsed this campaign in July 2016, we committed ourselves to providing a uniform system for identifying houses that could cut precious seconds off the response time for our police, fire and emergency medical services personnel, which can mean the difference between life and death.”
Over the last year, personnel from the Dickson Police Department, Dickson Fire Department and Emergency Communications Department have gone door to door through Dickson neighborhoods, asking residents for permission to place a black metal post with reflective numbers at a visible location near the street in front of their homes. The program is not mandatory and residents must give permission. While there, the emergency personnel also hand out materials on fire safety, crime prevention, neighborhood watch programs and steps to make the home safer as well as other informational material. At residences where nobody is home, the personnel leave a door hanger with information on how to obtain an address marker.
Dickson Police Department Chief Jeff Lewis said progress on placing the markers picked up over the summer when more people were home while school was out.
“During the summer break, we were able to assign our School Resource Officers part of the time to assist in the door-to-door campaign,” Lewis said. “Crime Prevention Officer David Cole and Dickson Fire Department Public Safety Educator Julia Holt have been primarily responsible for distributing the markers, with assistance from other officers, firefighters and dispatchers as personnel are available.”
Dickson Fire Department Chief Richard Greer said the Seconds Matter! campaign has a side benefit that could result in a reduction of insurance premiums for residents in the city.
“The City of Dickson is currently undergoing an audit by the Insurance Service Organization, which sets a rating that insurance companies use in determining premiums for homeowners,” Greer said. “Not only does reducing response time have a favorable impact on that rating, but the contact we have with residents when it comes to promoting fire safety in the home also is a consideration that could lower our rating.”
A committee consisting of Greer, Holt, Cole, Communications Director Rosalind Sowell, then-Police Chief Ricky Chandler and Dickson County 911 Director Paul McCallister came up with the proposal to cut down on the time it takes emergency services to locate a home. The Dickson City Council endorsed the campaign and the City of Dickson pays for the markers and reflective letters that are offered to residents at no charge. Emergency services personnel determine the best location for the marker to provide the most visibility and because of the uniform appearance emergency responders know what to look for in identifying a location.
While the door-to-door campaign has covered less than half the city in the first year, Sowell said residents who know they want a marker don’t have to wait for personnel to reach their neighborhoods.
“People can call the police department at 615-446-5403 and put their name on a list for a marker and set up a time for someone to come to their homes,” Sowell said. “We can’t just put it in the yard because we do require a signature for permission. That’s why we leave the door hangers, so you will know we came by and you can call to arrange for us to come back.”
Weiss, who said he has a marker at his home, said he remains committed to making sure every resident of the City of Dickson who wants a marker will get one.
“As long as it takes, we will make every effort to visit every home in the city as well as respond to requests for markers,” Weiss said. “We might never know how much of a difference having a marker has made, but our police officers, firefighters, communications and emergency medical staff can tell you horror stories about the difficulty not having a marker has made.”
City Administrator Rydell Wesson told the council last year he estimates it will cost $25,000-$30,000 and take 4-5 years to cover the entire city. Aside from Holt and Cole, fire, police and communications personnel are assigned to the door-to-door campaign as they are available without neglecting their normal duties or creating more costs through overtime. The campaign also has tried to vary the times of day officers go door to door in order to reach more people.
On Aug. 4, 2016, Dickson Mayor Don L. Weiss Jr. officially kicked off the Seconds Matter! campaign by placing the first address marker. Participating in the ceremony were (left to right) then-Police Chief Ricky Chandler, Fire Chief Richard Greer, homeowner Jeremy Spencer, 911 Director Paul McCallister, Emergency Communications Director Rosalind Sowell, Weiss, Fire Safety Educator Julia Holt and Crime Prevention Officer David Cole.