CTX officials remind 9-1-1 is for emergencies only - KXXV Central Texas News Now

CTX officials remind 9-1-1 is for emergencies only

(Source: KXXV) (Source: KXXV)

Dialing 9-1-1 for something trivial like asking for directions or finding out when a store opens is more common in Central Texas than you might think. 

Out of the more than 156,000 911 calls the Waco public safety answering point (or also known as a dispatch center) received in 2016, 2.5 percent of those were non-emergencies, according to T.J. Rhudy, who oversees the operation.

In Bell County, out of the more than 200,000 911 calls the communications center receives annually, about 10 percent of those are non-emergencies, director Michael Harmon said.

It's an issue McLennan County 9-1-1 Emergency Assistance District executive director Jesse Harrison knows too well.

"A lot of our 911 centers say that the public calls for directory assistance, utility outage, driving directions, or just general inquiries that aren't emergency in nature," he said.

Harrison thinks it's all a matter of convenience.

"A lot of people are comforted with the fact that they can call 365 days a year, 24/7, someone will answer. A lot of people think, 'Oh, well, they'll answer my call, even if it's not an emergency. Someone will answer and get me the assistance I need," he said. "It ties up a call-taker's time on a call that's not an emergency."

That doesn't sit well with Georgetown resident Melanie Allison, whose friend trains 9-1-1 dispatchers and knows how important time can be for people in need of serious help.

"Honestly, I feel like it's a waste of time or resources when the dispatchers could be actually doing their job, which is, like, super important," she said. "Maybe call a friend and be silly instead of wasting the [dispatch center's] time and resources. They're there to save lives or be there for other people in dangerous situations."

Harrison suggests you search the web for the number you actually need to dial if you're thinking of dialing 9-1-1 for a non-emergency. He also suggests calling your local public safety agency for non-emergencies.

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