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Having a major appliance go kaput, a scary looking spider in your house, even locking yourself in your car, all of these could seem like emergencies. But do you call 911 for help with them? Some people do.
The Valley Emergency Communications Center (VECC) takes anywhere from 2,500 to 3,000 calls a day. Depending on the day, hundreds of those calls could be like these.
Dispatch: 911: "What is the nature of your emergency?
Caller, "I have this cricket outside my room and I'm going to kill it. So, does that mean it's cricket-cide?
Dispatch: "I'm sorry what?
Caller: "If I kill the cricket, does that make it a cricket-cide?
That caller wanted to kill the cricket but doesn't want to be charged with a crime. Dispatchers say the real crime is the amount of time this call took, three minutes in all, three precious minutes that could have kept someone with a real emergency waiting.
Geana Randall, with VECC, said, "Think of it in your own situation. If you had an emergency right then, would you want someone blocking that line with a non-emergency call?"
And those non-emergency calls come in daily to the VECC 911 dispatch center. Some callers just don't want to take the time to look a number up. "What number do I call to get the time?" one caller asked. Clearly, the number to call is not 911 for that call, or this one.
Caller: "We have a spider in the house that bites, and the family's home. I'll open the door, but I need someone to come in to look at the spider and make sure we're OK."
Dispatch: "How big is the spider?"
Caller: "It's just a little one."
Randall said, "We just want people to use common sense and think about it."
But many of these calls lack common sense, like one from a woman who locked herself and her keys inside her car.
Caller: "I'm locked inside of my car, and I'm kind of having a panic attack."
Dispatch: "There should be a button on the side of the door, and you should be able to flip that and it will open up."
Caller: "What? How? Where? It won't unlock. There's absolutely no, oh wait, there we go."
A good rule of thumb is to only call 911 to stop a crime, save a life or put out a fire. For non-emergency calls, take the time to look the number up in your phone book.