With the county hard-hit by a series of winter storms, the county’s E911 office has be inundated with calls.
But some of the calls received have not been true emergencies.
E911 assistant director and coordinator Matt Slemp said it is very important folks understand when calling 911 is appropriate.
Call 911 when:
• You see fire or smoke.
• You see a motor vehicle accident.
• You or someone with you is in danger.
• You see a crime in progress or a crime has just occurred.
• You believe an ambulance is needed because someone is injured or ill.
• Someone is trying to gain access to your residence.
• Someone suspicious is prowling around your house or neighbor’s residence.
If you have a true emergency and call 911, it is vital that you know the address and telephone number you are calling from in order to receive assistance as quickly as possible, Slemp said.
“Remember, 911 is to be used for emergencies only,” he cautioned.
For non-emergency police, fire or medical requests, county residents should dial 276/926-1650. For other non-emergencies, consult your telephone directory for the appropriate number for the agency you need or dial 411 for assistance, Slemp stated.
Don’t call 911 in the following situations:
• To request weather reports or road conditions.
• To report power or phone service outages.
• To ask for directions or road names.
• To request your 911 address, which is generated by the county’s engineering and mapping department. That department can be reached at 276/926-6107.
• To request general information regarding a report you filed.
• To report keys locked in vehicles, unless someone is trapped inside.
• To request an ambulance for the purpose of a non-emergency routine transport, such as to a doctor appointment.
• To request general information, including business closing times, Halloween trick-or-treat times, parade times, etc.
Under the code of Virginia, it is a class 1 misdemeanor to abuse 911. It can carry a sentence of up to a year in jail, a $2,500 fine, or both. “In fact, in Virginia it’s illegal to make false reports of emergencies or disasters by telephone to anyone, public or private, not just 911 lines,” Slemp said.
If you mistakenly call 911, it’s important that you don’t hang up, he noted. “Stay on the line until you can tell the dispatcher that you called by accident and there is no emergency. This saves the dispatcher from having to call you back and confirm there is no emergency or possibly sending police to check your address for an emergency,” he stated.