When to Dial 911
KREX News Room
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. In an emergency, people instinctively know to dial 911. Calling it immediately finds a person's location and connects them to someone who can provide assistance as quick as possible. However, some people call 911 when it's not a true emergency and can lead to tied up phone lines.
A recent article from the Durango Herald reported that of the 19,000 calls made to the Durango- La Plata Emergency Communications Center last year, at least half shouldn't have gone through 911.
So far this year in Mesa County, about 80,000 calls have been made to the 911 call center. However, local authorities say most of them were emergencies. They say one person's emergency may not necessarily be an emergency to others.
No matter the time of the day, 911 telecommunicators like Cindy Casteel are available to help Mesa County citizens in what may be their darkest hour.
"It's a pleasure to know that I am here to answer those calls for them and to be there for them every time they call," said Casteel.
In the most immediate incidents, people are urged to call 911.
Monica Million, operations manager for the Grand Junction Regional Communications Center, said, "Any medical problems, any fire related incidents, prowlers, burglaries, robberies, assaults, fights, suspicious activities."
However, not all problems are immediate emergencies.
"On Thanksgiving Day you've got the, 'what temperature do you set the oven at?' During high volume times that means the phone could ring several times before somebody gets to it. If we have those lines tied up, maybe not answering an emergency," said Million.
Casteel said, "Anything that is not going on right now. If it's something that happened yesterday, something that may have happened overnight."
The non-emergency number is 242-6707, calling it can allow for quicker 911 response for others. If you or your property is not in any immediate threats or threat within 10 to 15 minutes, it's probably okay to call non-emergency. Also, if there's a power outage or your vehicle was vandalized the night before, for instance.
"If we're not able to answer their call in a timely fashion it could mean life or death for them," said Million.
When in doubt, the call center wants folks to call 911.
"He woke up and had a nightmare, couldn't get his folks up so he called us, we are happy to talk to kids," said Million.
Officials say at the end of the day they're always there to help.