Dumb Dialing: Dispatchers waste time on 911 nonsense when second - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dumb Dialing: Dispatchers waste time on 911 nonsense when seconds count

Posted: Updated:
  • KWWL.com LinksMore>>

  • Iowa City News

    Iowa City News

    Local news and information for Iowa City, Coralville, North Liberty, Solon, Tiffin, Swisher, Hills, Lone Tree, Oxford, University Heights, Shueyville and all of Johnson County and the surrounding area.More >>
    Local news and information for Iowa City, Coralville, North Liberty, Solon, Tiffin, Swisher, Hills, Lone Tree, Oxford, University Heights, Shueyville and all of Johnson County and the surrounding area.More >>
JOHNSON COUNTY (KWWL) -

Many people know that dialing 911 is for real life emergencies.

However you might be surprised dispatchers take dozens of strange, non-emergency calls daily, wasting minutes and seconds that could be interfering with saving a life.

Brandon Siggins is the Johnson County Emergency Communications Coordinator, he says every second counts.

"People use us for a reference more than they do for a 911 center," said Siggins. "Dispatchers have reported to me that someone called asking 'what time trick or treating started?'"

He says all too often ridiculous callers hold up the dispatch line.

Dispatcher: 911 What's your emergency?

Caller: Calling because I've ordered a pizza literally like an hour ago.

Dispatcher: You need to call the restaurant back and ask them where your food's at.

Caller: I've been literally waiting for like an hour for my pizza though.

Dispatcher: Sometimes it takes more than an hour for a pizza to be delivered.

Caller: Can you get a hold of them, I want to return my pizza, I don't want it anymore.

Dispatcher: OK, that's between you and them..

That's a real call Johnson County 911 dispatchers have taken.

Siggins says there are roughly 4-6 dispatchers at the Joint Emergency Communications Center in Johnson County at all times.

Dispatchers get 50,000 calls a year and about 150 a day.

Siggins says they get 10 non emergency for every one true emergency call.

Something very alarming for 6th-year dispatcher Trevor Templeman.

"911 calls that are not true emergencies, they do take away from the actual emergencies," said Templeman."They take away because you have to figure out if it's an emergency or not and you have to decide what sort of help they do need if they need anything at all."

Dispatcher: 911 What's your emergency?

Caller: The cops are blocking the entrance to my house. What's the number to get them out of my driveway.

Dispatcher: What's your address, sir? There's an emergency going on next door. I'll let them know of your inconvenience , but there's a life or death situation going on OK?

Siggins says that entire call lasted almost 2 minutes, but the nonsense caller dailed 911 dispatch again.

Dispatcher: What's the problem there?

Caller: I can't get into my driveway because there is six cop cars!

Dispatcher:You're going to have to stop calling 911 OK?

The call taking up so much time, another dispatcher had to take over.

Siggins say from the time a call comes in until first responders are dispatched is only a 60 second window.

Dispatchers have to answer 911 calls by the third ring, that's roughly 10 seconds.

"When you answer the phone you have to assume everything is an emergency," said Templeman.

For the non-emergency calls, Templeman says they can even slow down response time for legitimate medical emergencies.

He says if you ask for an officer or paramedic, they're almost obligated to respond.

"We've had doctors give a report to the ambulance service that minutes didn't save the person's life, seconds did," said Siggins.

Seconds sometimes wasted on calls that are 911 nonsense.

Dispatcher: Johnson County 911, address of your emergency?

Caller: No, can i just talk to someone who's not an emergency.

Dispatcher: You can call the routine number then...

Dispatchers are not trying to discourage people from calling 911, but it needs to be a true emergency.

If not, you should use the non-emergency dispatch line in your county.

Powered by Frankly