When a Dinwiddie school bus full of children crashed into Rhonda Koon's yard, her first response was to dial 911. But Koon said urgency quickly turned to frustration Monday, when dispatchers were unsure of where to send ambulances.
"They kept transferring me to Chesterfield County," Koon said in an interview after the crash. "While kids were bleeding in my yard, I kept telling them I live in Dinwiddie, and I was transferred back and forth on the phone three times."
Koon said the confusion stemmed from dispatchers trying to find her address – a road with the same name in two counties. River Road runs on both sides of the Appomattox River in both Chesterfield and Dinwiddie Counties. Online maps and GPS devices often direct drivers to Chesterfield, an inconvenience that unfolded when Koon contacted first responders.
"I looked at my cell phone, and 12 or 14 minutes had lapsed," Koon said. "I asked the police, ‘Where are all the EMS people, where are all the ambulances? They said, they're on their way ma'am, calm down. It'll be ok.'"
In a phone interview Tuesday, Dinwiddie Community Information Coordinator Marie Grant said Dinwiddie is aware of the River Road confusion, and has implemented a solution.
"We first set out to tackle the problem a little more than a year ago," Grant said. "One of our supervisors took the lead to end this frustration."
Supervisor Bill Chavis originally wanted to have a new zip code for the area, but a new zip code requires a new post office. Because of the U.S. Postal Service's long –term financial deficit, a new post office cannot be built.
Instead, Dinwiddie sent a letter to residents February 6, announcing an optional community name "North Dinwiddie" can be used to avoid confusion with River Road in Chesterfield.
"I kept saying over the phone I was in Dinwiddie," Koon said. "And if someone had intense bleeding, they couldn't wait for 15 minutes."
Grant said dispatchers will have a learning curve to become familiar with the new North Dinwiddie address. "But when members of the community and dispatchers become used to it, we should have less confusion."
Dinwiddie County school bus driver Linda Moss now faces reckless driving charges for the incident Monday morning. The crash sent 14 Sutherland Elementary School students to the hospital, an accident Moss blames on attempting to avoid an animal in the road.
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