Save 911 Calls for True Emergencies
After fireworks complaints overwhelmed system in 2015, KITSAP 911 establishes separate number for non-emergent calls over the 2016 holiday weekend
Following overwhelming call volume that nearly paralyzed the system with non-emergency calls during last year’s holiday, officials at KITSAP 911 are asking the public to think carefully before calling 911 during this year’s Fourth of July weekend. Unless there is an immediate danger or life-threatening situation, the public should avoid calling 911. This allows callers with true emergencies to reach 911 when needed. For non-emergent fireworks complaints, officials have set up a special event line - 360-307-5811 - that will be in operation from Friday evening through the Fourth of July.
It isn’t unusual that 911 centers would become overloaded with non-emergency fireworks calls on the Fourth of July. Last year, even though KITSAP 911 had added additional staff in anticipation of high workload, the number of calls was unprecedented. Call receivers and dispatchers were inundated with non-stop ringing phones and constant radio traffic. Between 7 p.m. on the Fourth and 7 a.m. the next morning, KITSAP 911 personnel entered 889 events. That is double the number of events entered during the same time period on an average day. At the peak, 223 calls were answered between 10 and 11 p.m. That is about seven times the average of 30. It is unknown how many callers received fast busy signals as the system became overwhelmed. Officials are concerned that, under these circumstances, callers reporting life-threatening emergencies may be unable to get help.
While officials want to emphasize the importance of calling 911 for life-threatening emergencies, KITSAP 911 asks the public’s cooperation in keeping 911 lines open for that purpose. To avoid overwhelming the system over this year’s Fourth of July holiday, KITSAP 911 is encouraging the public to call 360-307-5811 with non-emergent fireworks complaints. From Friday evening through the Fourth of July, that number will ring into the 911 center but calls will be handled as a lower priority than 911 emergency calls. It is, however, an emergency if fireworks use creates immediate danger. Says KITSAP 911 Deputy Director Maria Jameson-Owens, “If someone believes that fireworks are posing an imminent threat of fire or injury, they should call 911.”
KITSAP 911 provides 911 call receiving and well as dispatching for law enforcement, fire, emergency medical and animal control services in Kitsap County and its four incorporated cities.