GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The program is called "Numbers for Life." It's an effort to make sure every house in Gulfport is clearly marked with its street numbers.
"I've driven down most of these streets. You have some numbers present. And there's a lot that's not there," said Donald Knox.
Knox is a former Gulfport firefighter who understands the frustration of trying desperately to locate a house during an emergency call. Large numbers on a mailbox or on the side of a house, make that task much easier. But if they're missing.
"When you're trying to find a location and you can't, and you know those people need you there. Especially if it's a fire, and there's a possibility somebody could be trapped inside. And you can't get there and you can't find that location. It's frustrating for all the first responders," said Knox, who represents Karun Shriner's Temple #48.
That includes ambulance drivers.
"It's very important. Because any time that we are unable to locate the number, we have a hard time locating the correct house. And you know, in an emergency situation, time is of the essence," said American Medical Response first responder James Carver, "It happens every day. Actually, a lot of times a crew will call into the control center and ask if they have any further description of the house or anything like that and that's pretty much what we go by."
Knox is working with Gulfport City Council Member Ella Holmes-Hines on the project. A brief walk through a North Gulfport neighborhood saw several homes without street numbers.
"It's a prime example," said Knox, pointing to one house with no visible numbers, "And that's what we're trying to eliminate."
The councilwoman says she's also encountered the problem of missing numbers.
"They've called and asked to meet with me and you can't find the address. And I know the EMTs, fire, police, and AMR is having a tough time too. So,l it will really make a difference," said Ella Holmes-Hines.
The Shriner's group will soon be canvassing neighborhoods in Gulfport. They will install numbers for the elderly or disabled. But if homeowners can do it themselves, they'll be encouraged to do so.