Washington County 911 dispatchers say nonemergency calls happening regularly

Posted at 6:45 PM, Aug 06, 2021

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — Turns out trouble is on the line in Washington County.

911 dispatchers say some people aren't playing by the rules. Too many people have been calling 911 for non-emergencies and it's prompting leaders to speak up to those on the other end of the line.

For example, a woman made a call to 911 in 2020 asking for a number to the Springfield Post Office.

Captain James Crouch says calls like these aren't rare.

"It does happen on a weekly basis," Crouch said. "I'd say maybe even once a day. Sometimes multiple times in a day. If someone's calling 911 to ask you a question that can be asked on a 411 line or calling our administrative line, it just ties up those resources."

These are resources that can be life-saving if there's a medical issue, crime, or fire.

"Whenever you're tying up those resources, you're taking away care from that person who is actually in an emergency," said Crouch.

He posted to Facebook earlier this week to remind people when to call 911. He says general questions should not tie up emergency lines.

"We'll get someone calling 911, 'hey when does the firework event start?' Or if it's Halloween and there's trick or treating they'll call 911 and say 'hey what time does the trick or treating start?'"

In areas like Lexington, the E-911 director says they're no stranger to this either. She says it happens multiple times a day, but the purpose of a 911 call doesn't change based on location.

"The calls for, they gave me the wrong order, what time is the parade, barking dogs," said Jonelle Patton, who runs Lexington's E-911 center. "Yes, those things are emergencies to the person that's calling because it's interrupting their sleep. But truly it's not a 911 emergency."

The City of Lexington has a number of suggestions for what is a 911 call and what is not considered a 911 emergency.

To ask a non-emergency question, you can call 859-258-3600 in Lexington.

To reach the administrative line in Washington County, you can call 859-336-5450 for non-emergencies.

If you do have an emergency, as always call 911.