Unnecessary Calls to Police Dispatch Contribute to Delayed Response to Emergency Calls
Thousands of homes were affected by power outages after a dump truck snagged a power line attached to an electric tower Wednesday near 3800 block of South Jackson Street. Residents who were home without power were not the only ones affected— with traffic signal lights not working, drivers were also unsure of what to do.
San Angelo Public Safety Communications handled 143 incoming calls during that outage, which lasted about an hour and a half. The majority of those incoming calls were related to the outage and not requests for emergency response. This influx of unnecessary calls caused a delay in response to callers who were in real need of public safety intervention.
Following the incident, San Angelo Police issued Nixle alerts advising the public not to call 9-1-1 to report the outage and to inform drivers about what traffic rules to obey when signal lights are not functioning.
"Please refrain from calling 9-1-1 or the non-emergency line to dispatch to report power outages or to ask when power will be restored. The call takers and dispatchers do not have access to that information nor can they expedite power being restored to residents. 9-1-1 is for emergencies only and we need to keep lines open so we can provide assistance to residents who are truly in need.” — San Angelo Police Chief, Tim Vasquez.
What incidents are considered emergencies? An emergency is any serious situation where a law enforcement officer, fire fighter, or emergency medical help is needed right away.
Who should citizens call to report a power outage?
- Contact your local power provider at the Customer Service number listed on your bill. Save the number to your contacts for future reference.
Guidelines for traffic rules during an outage:
- Treat each traffic light as a four-way stop, with the driver on the right having the right-of-way.
- Proceed with caution only when traffic permits.
- Enter intersections only when it is safe to do so, using turn signals to let other motorists know your intentions.
- Use extreme caution in school zones.
- As always, yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.
- Watch out for and obey police officers directing traffic within intersections.
The San Angelo Police Department is asking you to share this information with friends and family. Let’s work together to keep emergency lines open for emergencies.