Last Modified: Sunday, January 19, 2014 2:57 PM
About 350,000 phone calls were made last year to the Calcasieu Parish Public Safety Communications District, or E-911, with just over 200,000 of them being dispatched to responding agencies, Robin Martin, the district’s executive director, said Friday.
According to the district’s 2013 call report, 84,571 calls were dispatched to law enforcement agencies; 34,045 were dispatched to emergency medical services; 6,621 were dispatched to fire departments; and 75,356 were miscellaneous service calls. Martin said the number of calls increases slightly each year, especially as the population in Calcasieu continues to grow.
“The general rule of thumb is that we will receive one call per person in the parish,” he said. “We are likely to have more 911 calls this year, especially with the influx of construction workers coming in for certain projects.”
Martin said some of the 350,000 phone calls were multiple callers reporting the same incident, like a car accident or fire. He said E-911 may receive up to 50 calls from residents reporting the same incident.
Martin said emergency calls made from a landline phone will show which responding agency should be dispatched. For calls made from a cellphone, dispatchers verify the latitude and longitude to determine which agency should be contacted. Cellphones are used for more than 75 percent of 911 calls, Martin said.
“The only time we don’t automatically dispatch is if someone at a home wants a specific law enforcement agency to respond, as long as it has jurisdiction in that area,” he said.
Martin said calling the E-911 center is the quickest way to report an emergency, rather than calling a responding agency, like a fire department or law enforcement.
“The average 911 phone call lasts about 90 seconds, but when you’re on the phone, it may feel like it takes forever,” he said. “We will ask the caller questions to verify the location and type of emergency, and, quite often, we already have the responding agency notified with our computer-aided dispatch.”
To improve response times, Martin said residents should register with Smart911, a national program that allows people to provide detailed information like cellphone numbers, medical needs, home layout or photos of those living in a home. He said emergency personnel cannot access the information listed on a Smart911 profile unless someone dials 911.
Martin told the American Press in November that more than 1,000 residents in Calcasieu had signed up with the program. Emergency responders in more than 30 states have signed up to use Smart911 since its launch three years ago.