New Oil Field Permits Allow Better Emergency Response Access
Over Memorial Day weekend, a tornado swept through McKenzie County for only the fourteenth time in over six decades. While no one was killed, nine people were injured and 15 trailers were destroyed in a temporary camp set up by workers in the state's largest oil-producing county.
Fortunately, thanks to new ordinances pushed through by local officials, the location of the "man camp" was known by emergency respondents.
An article by the Bismarck Tribune quotes McKenzie County emergency manager Jerry Samuelson:
Before, we just had 'hillbilly addressing.' ... 'Go down to a farmer’s mailbox and turn right.' That was when everybody knew everybody.
But the population was booming so fast, it quickly became impossible to keep track of how many people were in the county, and where those people were living, making efficient emergency response almost impossible at times when every second counts. The Tribune further explains:
The new rules require that 'man camps,' temporary housing complexes for oil field workers, and RV parks obtain permits and addresses, enabling 911 dispatchers to pinpoint where people are temporarily living. Officials also decided not to kick people off land for not having a permit, knowing they would set up somewhere else, but rather work to get them the right paperwork.
Some long-time residents are feeling a bit non-plussed by the new rules, reluctant to give up the rural way of life they hold dear. But with the population floodgates showing no sign of closing anytime soon, the regulations could someday mean the difference between life and death for many workers and their families.