SPECIAL REPORT : Lives on the line as non emergency calls crowd 911

911 Dispatch

AUGUSTA, Ga (WJBF) – What if there’s big problems in Augusta, who are you going to call? 911.

“In reference to an assault on a six year old,” said a dispatcher.

“He was grabbing her by the neck that’s why I’m calling,” said a 911 call.

These are the pros at Augusta 911 taking your call to send help to your emergency.

On average people call 911 in Augusta one thousand times a day.

“Some are reporting a traffic accident someone could have been hit by a vehicle could be someone having a medical emergency,” said Director Daniel Dunlap.

Those are real life and death situations that are called in around the clock to 911.

“I’ve been having chest pains,” was the response on a 911 call.

“These are definitely things they have to deal with every day,” said Director Dunlap.

But many of the calls coming to 9-1-1 are not real emergencies, really far from it. Like these

“”I need a police to meet my daughter she ran out of gas and take her some gas,” said one caller to 911

“Okay the Fire Department doesn’t come out for cats struck in a tree,” said a dispatcher at Augusta 911.

If you work in 9-1-1 you’ve answered one of these non-emergency calls.

“A cat struck up in a tree or a child threw their ball or a Frisbee on the roof,” said Assistant Director Sanita Cheatham.

“Sometimes we get calls where they need numbers to somewhere else you know marshals department code enforcement something like that,” said Dispatcher Steven Clary.

“They call for different things like court dates can I ask you a question real fast my landlord is trying to put me out those kind of emergency non-emergency things,” said another dispatcher.

“They may answer one of those non-emergency calls and the next call they receive is someone who’s saying their baby is not breathing,” said Director Dunlap.

“It’s my daughter she can’t breathe she’s passing out and stuff,” said a 911 call.

“It does impact us especially on our 911 lines we only have so many lines on our consoles,” said Assistant Director Cheatham.When a call comes into 911 dispatchers don’t know when they pick up if it’s a real big time emergency where time is off the essence.

“I have a kitchen fire in my house,” said a 911 call.

Of if it is not serious.

“She’s call in reference to an assault that happened yesterday with another tenet,” said a dispatcher.

“If everybody is calling 911 the true emergencies may not be able to come through,” said Assistant Director Cheatham.

“If we’re having to deal with a non-emergency situation when some ones trying to call in with their true emergency there’s the potential that we might not be able to answer that emergency as quickly as we could,” said Director Dunlap.

And that’s scary in a business where there are lives on the line.

“They don’t need to be over taxed or burdened with non-emergency calls when we have emergencies going on all the time,” said Director Dunlap.

When you need help you call 911, but you can be a big help if you only make that call in an emergency,

Also Director Dunlap says adding to the burden for dispatchers is pocket dialing 9-1-1, this is  where people have their phones 911 buttons accidentally while they’re carrying it.

Another problem at 911 is with old cell phones, that no longer have service but they still can call 9-1-1, adults will give children these phones to play with and they end up calling 911.

For a list of numbers to call in non-emergency situations, CLICK HERE.

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