Owensboro-Daviess County 911 Director Paul Nave urges residents to stop calling 911 for non-emergencies.
Though Nave says the priority for first responders working in emergency dispatch is to be there for people in need, many calls are made to 911 that aren’t considered emergencies. According to a report from Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs),15-20 percent of incoming 911 calls are considered non-emergencies.
Nave doesn’t want anyone to feel like they can’t call 911, but he explained that those working in dispatch are required to take every incoming call and triage them, whether the call involves an emergency or not.
The number for the Owensboro Police Department Dispatch is 270-687-8888.
Non-emergency calls vary, Nave said, but many of them stem from power outages caused by storms. People call 911 regularly to ask first responders when their power will be turned back on. Not only can emergency dispatch do nothing to solve a power outage, but those calls prevent first responders from helping those in need in a timely manner.
“If you’re calling because you can’t get ahold of Kenergy or OMU, that’s not an emergency,” he said. “However, if your power is out and you’re on an oxygen machine that you need to survive, and it quits working — that’s an emergency, of course, and we can help you with that.”
As winter approaches and the roads become slicker and people turn on their heat, car accidents, structure fires and other weather-related emergencies are likely to rise. Owensboro-Daviess County Dispatch stays steady year-round, but the 911 center receives more emergency calls during inclement weather.
So, calling 911 to tell them your phone is out of minutes is not ideal, Nave said. Neither is calling 911 to ask where the tornado is located when the storm sirens go off. Nave said his first responders receive these types of calls fairly often.
“We don’t know where the tornado is,” he said. “The only thing we can advise you on is where you should go to stay safe.”
However, residents should call 911 if a tree falls on their home during a storm, or if they’re stuck in an unsafe area when a tornado hits.
Nave said he understands why people may call for these reasons, but he would like to point out a different solution.
“We’re here for you, but calling 911 for a non-emergency — it burdens first responders in dispatch,” he said. “If you have questions regarding health, shelter, utilities, there’s a 211 line that United Way has provided that can help you with all of those things.”