Warren County commissioners heard an update Monday night on the progress a citizen group has made working to help improve 911 services in the five counties that border Lake Gaston.

Nan Dowless, a Warren County lake resident, told commissioners of the emergency medical incident that occurred a year ago this month that served as the impetus in forming the LKG 911 Community Task Force. 

The husband of Sherry Herzing needed medical attention, and multiple cell phone calls made from the Brunswick County, Va., side of Lake Gaston were routed to Warren County. 

“I don’t know if you all know this,” Dowless said, turning toward the audience, “but when you call 911 on your cell phone, it does not necessarily find your location.”

Dowless said that it took medical responders 35 minutes to find Bob Herzing, who succumbed to a heart attack. 

Since the task force formed earlier this year, heads of the 911 centers of all five lake border counties—Warren, Halifax and Northampton in North Carolina and Brunswick and Mecklenburg in Virginia—have been working together to improve services, Dowless said. 

The task force, now 67 volunteers strong, has gained support from multiple organizations including the Lake Gaston Lions Club, Halifax Electric Membership Corporation, Lake Gaston Association and Lake Gaston Regional Chamber of Commerce.

“This is not a lake issue, it’s a rural community issue,” she said.

Since February, the task force has delivered over 1,000 911 packets, which include help cards for posting in homes, garages and boathouses, Dowless reported. The card encourages 911 calls to be placed from landlines when possible and includes space for information that may be needed when making an emergency phone call, such as a home’s full address and subdivision, nearest major road and landmark, alternate 911 number and nearest defibrillator.

Additional resources recommended by the task force are reflective house numbers for mailboxes or entrance posts that meet requirements based on which county residents live in; flashing emergency lights; and automated external defibrillators.

Dowless told the board that the task force has been working with cell phone providers and was close to working out a solution to the problem of cell phones not pinging the correct towers. She also said that the 911 centers would all have access to a map of the lake showing all the border counties thanks to a mapper in one of  the Virginia counties who is taking on that task.

The last piece of the puzzle, Dowless said, is working with public and private boat ramps and making sure the buoys in the middle of the lake work and are in the right spots.

The LKG 911 Community Task Force has been asked by a Virginia senator to prepare a presentation, Dowless said, and host a meeting in the Lake Gaston area to see how the group could lobby for funding to support enhancement of 911 services.

To obtain free 911 Help Resources packets for your home or homeowners association, or to ask a task force member to speak to your group, call Sherry Herzing at 434-636-4027 or Alison Mundy at 252-586-1530.

For more information, follow the group’s Facebook page, LKG 911 Community Task Force.