Apache Junction police: More calling 911 for non-emergency situations

Posted at 5:48 PM, Sep 09, 2016

They are the first responders you don't see: emergency dispatchers and 911 operators. Those who deal directly with those going through serious situations every day say they're dealing with a growing problem.

Operator: "911 emergency."

Caller: "Hi I'm trying...trying to get my cell phone to turn back on."

Operator: "This is 911 sir, for life-threatening emergencies."

From broken cell phones to loose amphibians.

"We received a call about three weeks ago, a lady called in because she had a frog on her front porch," said Jerry Ward, Communications Administrator for the Apache Junction Police Department.

Ward has seen, or rather heard, it all during his career.

Dispatcher: "911 emergency."

Caller: "They can help me locate my lost wallet right? Or try to?"

"When that call came in the dispatcher actually had to put another emergency call on hold, to answer his call," explained Ward.

Ward says the lost wallet call was just Friday morning.

The frivolous calls can put anyone with a real emergency in serious jeopardy.

"When we are receiving calls like that, it ties up that operator trying to figure out if there is truly an emergency on that line," added Ward.

The problem got really out of hand during a recent storm. The Apache Junction non-emergency line for police went down. Some people decided to simply call 911.

That jammed the lines.

Apache Junction police want people to think "Is this a life and death situation?" before calling 911.

Police also want to remind people not to let kids play with old cell phones. Even though they do not have service, they can still connect to 911.

Below is a quick reference chart for when to call and when not to call.

Examples of When to Call 911:
Medical emergencies 
Heart attack or stroke 
House fire 
Domestic violence 
Burglary or theft in progress 
Car accident with life-threatening injuries 
Suspicious activities
Anything else that seems like an emergency! 

Do not call 9-1-1:
For information 
When the power is out 
To report a broken fire hydrant 
When your water pipes burst 
To get a ride for doctor's appointment 
For paying tickets 
For your pet 
For directions