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You called 911 for that?! campaign kicks off

Dispatch tries to prevent more inappropriate calls with Facebook posts


In an effort to reduce non-emergency, general information and nuisance calls to emergency 911 lines, Washington County Consolidated Communications Agency (WCCCA) staff will be posting the most ridiculous calls they receive each week on their Facebook page and Twitter account. 

“Although most of the general public is aware of when to call 911, we regularly receive a large number of non-emergency and general information calls on our emergency lines,” Mark Chandler of WCCCA said in a press release. “Given our limited number of 911 lines by which we receive emergency calls and a limited number of call takers to answer those emergency calls, it’s critical that those lines are kept available to those that have actual emergencies.”

Chandler said he understands some people aren’t sure who to call when they need help with an issue that’s not an emergency or don’t have the number handy.

The non-emergency number for Washington County is 503-629-0111. The number for Multnomah County is 503-823-3333, and for Clackamas County it’s 503-655-8211.

WCCCA staff hopes spreading the word about their new “You called 911 for that?!” campaign and calling attention to misuses of 911 services will reduce the number of inappropriate calls coming into dispatch.

Calls to 911 should be for police, fire or medical emergencies when life or property is in jeopardy and immediate assistance is necessary.

Response to the campaign is already starting on WCCCA’s Facebook page with some stating that posting the calls to “shame” people won’t help the situation. But WCCCA responders and others say examples will help illustrate their point as to what’s not appropriate.

This week’s example was a 911 call from a man who called in to report his debit card wouldn’t work at a gas station, which was closed at the time of the call.

This man had just arrived in the U.S. and Cantonese was his first language, but Chandler said most of the inappropriate calls have nothing to do with a language barrier.

Even if the man called 911 thinking it was a general help number, “what he would be asking for us to do for him while he’s at a closed gas station in Oregon where you can’t pump your own gas, I would have no idea,” Chandler said.

See what they come up with at facebook.com/WCCCA911 and twitter.com/WCCCA.

“Stay tuned for even better calls next week,” Chandler said.

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