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Hillsborough County in partnership with the Hillsborough County Sheriffs Office and 9-1-1 dispatch introdced a new emergency response numbering system on the Upper Tampa Bay Trail. The system allows emergency responders to pinpoint citizens in need of help and permit trail users to specify areas of the trail that require maintenance.
The numbered 9-1-1 decals are placed every 200 feet along the trail
Staff from the Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department (PRC) placed bright yellow decals along the Upper Tampa Bay Trail at approximately 200-feet intervals. This numbering system enables 9-1-1 call takers to know the exact location of trail users in need of emergency response services, which emergency units are closest for dispatch and the most efficient way for emergency responders to reach the incident. In the past this was not possible because trails just had a generic location, not an address that 9-1-1 could easily find. This numbering system is also used by park users to report maintenance or safety issues so Park staff can quickly and easily address them.
After researching ways to number the 7.S-mile trail, the decal system was chosen because the bright yellow decals were easy to see and could be easily replaced because of their low cost. The Department was also searching for ways to incorporate a safety system without excessive sign pollution along the trail. Maintaining more traditional markers, vandalism, and convenience of mowing and basic trail maintenance were also considered in the decision to use the decals.
Another benefit of the exact location of the 9-1-1 calls is that is allows staff to track incidents and where they occur on the trail. It might show a pattern where there might be safety or maintenance issues and allows staff or law enforcement officials to address or closely monitor a pmiicular area.
The decal system implemented also has sequential numbers and each trail has their own set of numbers. No numbers are duplicated. The decals also made it easy for the citizen education component since the numbers are always easily visible and right in front of the citizens that use the trail. Simply call 9-1-1 and report the station umber on the decal. Other agencies worked in partnership with the Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department to ensure this system would work and be compatible with emergency responders. Testing the use of station numbers to report, dispatch and respond to 9-1-1 incidents was completed on the Town-N-Country Greenway, a shorter connector trail to the popular Upper Tampa Bay Trail. Testing of the pilot project proved successful as test callers were located within acceptable response times by emergency responders. This set the stage to number the Upper Tampa Bay Trail.
Installing the bright yellow decals along the Upper Tampa Bay Trail
The station numbers have been incorporated into the Hillsborough County Sheriffs Office and Fire Rescue's mapping and dispatching systems. Map books containing the station numbers and trail locations have been created and distributed to emergency responders. These map books help various jurisdictions that are not on the same 9-1-1 system have the proper information.
The station number program hopes to be expanded and addressing schemes developed for Fort King Trail, the Balm Boyette Trail and the Northdale Trail. It is the program's goal to place the numbering system on all trails in Hillsborough County. PRC is currently working with neighboring jurisdictions to implement the program for the 41-mile Suncoast Parkway Trail, a trail that traverses three counties in West Central Florida.
The Upper Tampa Bay Trail has 229 stations and the decals and the map books cost $2,000 dollars. PRC felt this was an excellent price to pay to help ensure needed emergency response for our trail users.
So far UTB Trail has had 134 calls for help. State statutes protect information about the nature of the calls.
Partners in this project
Over the last few years a core team of staff from the Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department, the Hillsborough County Sheriffs Office (HCSO), the Hillsborough County Fire Rescue Department (HCFR) and the Hillsborough County Streets and Addresses Unit have been working on the 9-1-1 Trailways Addressing Program to aid emergency response agencies in locating and responding to incidents along the Upper Tampa Trail and other trails in Hillsborough County. In 2006, station numbers were assigned to the Town-N-Country Greenway as part of a pilot project to determine if the program would work. The Upper Tampa Bay Trail received station numbers in media kick-off project in Dec. 2008.
For more information:
Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department
10119 Windhorst Rd., Tampa FL 33619
Phone: (813) 635-3504 - Email: Brillj@hillsboroughcounty.org