TAZEWELL (WATE) - Claiborne County residents have raised concerns about the poor condition of their roads for decades. Now damage from severe storms earlier this year is hurting emergency response times.
Dispatcher Mary Jo Baird's job has become a lot more about navigation over the last few months as she uses maps to guide emergency crews on Claiborne County's troubled roads.
"A lot of the roads are affected, the estimated response time of emergency vehicles," Baird said. "There's a lot of potholes in the middle of the roads, road signs washed away, broken pavement."
On this rainy Thursday, Larry Gibson, with the county ambulance service, took 6 News on a very slick, bumpy ride.
He says it's tough enough driving down the narrow, rural roads. Add to that, there are giant pieces of roads that are missing.
"It could hurt you. It could hurt patients or an entire group of people," Gibson said.
Local officials are trying to address the problem. In late September, they held a public forum to talk about the issue.
"Obviously if the roads continue to decline, you won't make it to someone's home on a reasonable timeline," Gibson said.
6 News asked if there was an average change in response time, but officials say they don't have any figures for an average overall change.
They can only calculate how long it takes to get from one location to another and compare that with previous trips along the same route.