Five of every 20 calls to the Scott Emergency Communications Center 9-1-1 line is either a prank call or a non emergency. This according to WQAD.

One man busted for drug paraphernalia could also find himself busted for calling 9-1-1 with no emergency 458 times since last April. It wouldn't surprise me one bit if finding out that tidbit of information led to WQAD doing a story on how many non emergency calls 9-1-1 actually gets.

It's a big problem because in an emergency seconds matter. It's dispatchers staying on the line to help a civilian potentially save a life before first responders can get to their location. It's dispatchers passing on important information that could save a police officer's life when he or she is racing to a call. It's getting that fire truck out of the station and on scene 30 seconds earlier. Non emergency calls and prank calls can delay dispatchers receiving or giving this information to the person that needs it.

So when should you call 9-1-1? Here's what secc911.com says on the subject:

  • If someone is suffering a heart attack, stroke, or is experiencing severe bleeding.
  • Any kind of building or structure fire.
  • Domestic violence situations.
  • Burglary or theft that is in progress.
  • Vehicle crashes.
  • Suspicious activities.
  • Any other situation that seems like an emergency. These would be situations that would require an immediate response from a police officer, paramedics or the fire department.

9-1-1 is for life and death emergencies and situations that need immediate response of police, fire or EMS. However, The Scott Emergency Communications Center is very cautious about warning people away from calling 9-1-1 if they think they have an emergency. They'd rather have you call with something you think is a genuine emergency that isn't, than not call for something that is.

If  you accidentally butt dial 9-1-1 or hit the button on your phone that calls it automatically, stay on the line to tell the dispatcher it was a mistake. This will save the dispatcher time. If you don't stay on the line, then they need to take the time to call you back and make sure you're not in distress.

And for the safety and security of the rest of us: Your neighbors. Your friends. Police, Fire and EMS personnel, don't be a knuckle head and prank 9-1-1. It could be the difference between life and death.