Police release video on when to call, when not to call 911

Police release video on when to call, when not to call 911

MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - For emergencies, law enforcement officers always urge people to call 911. But what constitutes an actual emergency?

Mount Pleasant Police released a video Friday to explain the difference.

"If you've ever wondered whether or not you should call the 911 emergency line for a problem, you're not alone," Police Chief Carl Ritchie says in the video.

Mount Pleasant Fire Chief Herb Williams acknowledges trying to figure out whether to call the emergency line or the non-emergency line can be difficult.

"But knowing which number to call can mean the difference between life and death," Williams says in the video.

The video then presents several scenarios to demonstrate which "emergencies" actually do warrant a call to 911.

Suspicious activity, a crime in progress, a possible fire or a medical emergency are shown as emergencies that warrant a call to 911 dispatchers.

The non-emergency number, on the other hand, should be used for scenarios like a broken fire hydrant, a neighbor's dog that won't stop barking or loud parties down the street.

The website 911.gov states an emergency is " any situation that requires immediate assistance from the police, fire department or ambulance," including a fire, a crime, especially if it is in progress; a car crash, especially if someone is injured; or a medical emergency, especially when symptoms require immediate medical attention.

Anyone who calls 911 should be prepared to answer questions that include:

  • The location of the emergency, including the street address
  • The phone number you are calling from
  • The nature of the emergency
  • Details about the emergency, such as a physical description of a person who may have committed a crime, a description of any fire that may be burning, or a description of injuries or symptoms being experienced by a person having a medical emergency

The site also states anyone who dials 911 by mistake should not hang up because that could  make 911 officials think that an emergency exists, and possibly send responders to your location. Instead, officials say you should simply explain to the 911 operator what happened.

For Charleston County, the non-emergency number is (843) 743-7200.

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