To Call or Not to Call? THAT is the Question

People often get confused or are uncertain regarding whether to call the 9-1-1 emergency line or 692-5743, the Sheriff ’s non-emergency dispatch number.

Here are some important things to know:

Q: How do we know when TO call 9-1-1?

A: It’s important to remember that 9-1-1 is for emergencies only. Call 9-1-1 if…someone is hurt, in danger, needs an ambulance, fire or immediate law enforcement assistance. If you aren’t sure if the situation you observe is an emergency, err on the side of caution and call 9-1-1. Make sure to clarify with the dispatcher exactly what your observations are. The dispatchers are professionals, and they will know how to prioritize your call and what emergency services will be necessary for the situation.

Q: How do we know when NOT to call 9-1-1?

A: If NO ONE is hurt, in danger, or in need of an ambulance, fire or immediate law enforcement assistance, then most likely there is NO reason to call 9-1-1. However, feel free to use the non-emergency line at 692-5743. Why does it matter? The County Dispatch Center fields emergency calls for the Sheriff ’s Office, Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services. The center also has a language line service, so any language represented in our community can be translated. In addition, the dispatch center has the capability to communicate via text servicing with hearing impaired individuals. All that being said, dispatch is a busy place. Covering unnecessary 9-1-1 calls takes away from true emergencies.

Q: What if I DO have to call 9-1-1 or the non-emergency number, 692-5743?

A: If you DO have to call us, know where you are when placing the call. When you call from a landline (home phone) the dispatch center will know immediately the address from which you are calling. However, in today’s world, everyone has cell phones. If you call from a cell, the dispatch center will not know your location. With this in mind, be aware of your surroundings and make an effort to be as detailed as possible about your location.

Q: Any other pointers or things to remember if we do have to call?

A: Stay calm! And remember, when you are on the phone with the dispatch center, you are their eyes and ears. Stay relaxed. Be as clear and concise as possible so the dispatcher can quickly dispatch the appropriate services to the scene. Also, NEVER hang up when you are on the phone with 9-1-1 (until they tell you to). You may have called 9-1-1 by accident. If you do, do not hang up the phone. Explain to the dispatcher that it was an accident. If you hang up the phone, law enforcement will automatically be dispatched to the location to check if an emergency situation has/is occurring.  This is a huge waste of time and resources.