Augusta, GA – Every year, Augusta 911 answers more than half a million phone calls.
Looking at last year’s numbers for the addresses with the most 911 calls, we found that some places are calling 911 more than 100 times a year.
Coming in at #1 on that list is unknown numbers, meaning no number was given or the number was blocked. That’s why emergency officials say callers need to give as much information as possible.
“It’s important so that we know what resources we have to send. As firefighters are riding to a call, based on the information they instantly start developing solutions,” Chief Chris James, of the Augusta Fire Department, said.
Coming in at #2, the Augusta Mall, with 447 calls last year. From accidents in the parking lot to shoplifting, the calls vary there.
At #3, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, with 287 calls. Calls are likely coming from that building for dispatching purposes.
At #4, the Walmart on Deans Bridge Road, with 248 calls. Again… the types of calls there vary.
At #5, the Southgate Shopping Plaza on Gordon Highway, with 167 calls.
At #6, the Sun Trust Building on Broad Street, with 166 calls.
Tied for #7, with 151 calls each — H.H. Gregg on Robert C. Daniel Parkway and a church on Martin Luther King Boulevard. These two surprised us.
Augusta 911 tells us that their system generates addresses based on cell phone towers. If someone doesn’t give an exact address, 911 will use the cell phone tower’s address.
Coming in at #9, it was a tie again. This time, with 137 calls each. Georgia Regents University and the Bon-Air Apartments on Walton Way. Officials at 911 explain that GRU calls whenever they need a patient transported, plus considering its size, it’s normal to have a lot of calls. As for Bon-Air Apartments, it’s an old building with a lot of elderly people who have medical conditions.
“We treat every call like it’s an emergency. When you get an alarm in, whether it’s a fire alarm, a medical emergency call, the fire department treats every call as if it is an emergency call. Until we can determine something different,” Chief James said, adding his department does respond to a lot of old buildings for fire alarms, but he says if they begin to notice a problem with false alarms, they talk to building management. “It needs to be up to code. Have an alarm company come in and check it out. They have to fix that alarm system.”
Some cities have fines for repeat false alarms, but Augusta still has not drafted up an ordinance to make that happen yet.
Chief James says he is hoping the next SPLOST package will include a new alert system for Augusta 911. He says the system will cost about $1 million, but says it will speed up the city’s response time for emergency calls.