911 - Not Always the Ones to Call

January 3, 2007 -- Posted at 12:15 p.m. CST

Jonesboro, AR -- Potholes, signal light malfunctions, stray animals, and school closings are not reasons to call 911. Many people feel that 911 has all of the answers, but Bob Andrews with the Jonesboro Emergency department says "bogus" emergency calls are taking away from those who truly need help.

"People don't realize how busy we get here especially during the storm season. And when they call in with cats up in trees or wanting to know if school is closed today, it's taking the attention away from the real emergencies like car accidents, shootings, things like that."

Andrews knows that there are times that people need to know something and don't want to search throughout the phonebook for the right person to call.

"They need help for whatever reason, but we aren't the ones to help them. They just don't know which department to call. That's why the 311 system would help."

311 is a new system that Little Rock has just put in place for this very reason. A city representative answers your call and transfers you to the right department. It's been compared to a more localized and personal 411.

But Jonesboro hasn't broke ground on a program like this just yet.

"We've talked about it, but the biggest expenditure is personnel. Getting the computers, the desks, and getting a place to put these people is going to be a big cost."

While the system is not in the works yet, Andrews said it would help from getting calls like these:

"911 Operator: Police, Fire Dispatch, Collins.

Caller: Yea, is all the public schools open today?

911 Operator: I have no idea.

Caller: Don't know?

911 Operator: No.

Caller: Well I thought you might know...

911 Operator: No sir I don't know.