April Aims to Educate People on Emergency Phone Calls

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COLUMBIA - In addition to answering emergency phone calls, the Columbia Joint Communications Department spent April educating the community on what it means to dial 9-1-1.

"It's a chance for us to remind folks what actually happens during a 9-1-1 call, what we kinda expect of you, kinda what we need from you, and what happens if you hang up on a 9-1-1 call," Operations Manager Brian Maydwell said.

The department receives about 80,000 emergency calls each year, and anywhere between 5,000 and 6,900 calls each month. Maydwell said many of the calls the department receives are accidential pocket dials or calls made by children. This is a situation the police department finds problematic.

"It ties up all of our officers. Every one of those calls has to have an officer look at it," Sgt. Joe Bernhard said. "Depending on what it is and what information we have there will be two or three officers going to that call."

A main cause of these accidental calls are stemming from children playing with old cell phones. Unless the phone's battery is removed, or the phone is completely powered down it can still make 9-1-1 calls.

The appropriate times to call 9-1-1 are in situations involving immediate danger to your life of property, and when you call be prepared to answer some questions.

"While you are actually giving answers to the 9-1-1 call taker the dispatcher across the room is probably dispatching police, fire or EMS," Maydwell said. "It's a simultaneous event."

For any concerns you might have, but are not an emergency contact the authorities at (573) 442-6131.

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