911 operators seeing steady increase of calls in Spokane County - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

911 operators seeing steady increase of calls in Spokane County

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SPOKANE, Wash. -

911 call receivers are often the first line in any emergency and the number of calls they handle only continues to grow.

Karen Crawford is a supervisor with Spokane County 911. She says she’s heard all kinds of calls. But there are some that do stick with her. “When you’re talking kids and vulnerable adults that find themselves victimized in some way, those are the ones that really tug at your heartstrings,” she says.

Spokane County got nearly 22,000 911 calls in December.

“I’ve been here 15 years and each year, we see a steady increase,” says Amy McCormick, the 911 operations manager.

She says about 16 percent of those 22,000 calls though are ones classified as “hang up calls.” An example of one would be a child who uses an old disconnected cell phone to dial 911 and the call still goes through. If call receivers get a hang up, they have a procedure to go through where they have to call back and verify that there’s no emergency. McCormick says if they can’t reach anyone on the other end, that could impact others.

“That impacts law enforcement because then we send that information to law enforcement who ultimately could have to tie up police resources to send someone out to the house to confirm that there's not an emergency,” she says.

The best rule of thumb is to call 911 for emergencies, or something in progress, and call Crime Check to report non-emergencies. Crawford says if they do get a call that isn’t supposed to go to 911, they will refer the caller to the appropriate number because their main goal is customer service.

“Ultimately we're all in this together and we're here to help,” McCormick says. 

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