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Emergency calls from Tooele residents left on voicemail, prompting 9-1-1 reminder

Posted at 8:56 PM, Sep 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-28 23:20:06-04

TOOELE, Utah — The North Tooele Fire District is reminding citizens to know what number to call if they're experiencing an emergency.

The district says they've been getting emergency calls and voicemails left on their administrative phone line, which isn't monitored after-hours or on weekends.

“If you call 9-1-1, they will get us out there faster than any voicemail you could ever leave ever," said Jon Smith, a firefighter and public information officer at North Tooele Fire District. “We live in a world of seconds, not minutes, in emergency response.”

Since time is of the essence when it comes to emergency response, it's important to note that calls for help should be directed to 9-1-1 dispatch either by dialing 9-1-1 or a non-emergency dispatch line.

“We’ll get everything from strange odors to 'I’ve seen a car crash' to 'my house is on fire,'" Smith said about the different calls they get on the administrative line, many of which are left as voicemails.

“We get that quite often where people say, 'Well, I just don’t think that was a big enough emergency.' Well, nobody at 9-1-1 will ever say this isn’t a big enough emergency," said North Tooele Fire Chief Randy Willden. "Emergencies are in the eye of the beholder.”

The District said they've received emergency phone calls on the administrative line as recently as Monday night, when a caller left a voicemail about spotting a potential brush fire while driving on Interstate 80.

Chief Willden says roughly 80 percent of their calls are for medical emergencies and should be communicated to emergency responders by calling 9-1-1.

“If you’re smelling something, if you think something's on fire, if you smell something burning, if you’re having a medical issue, an allergic reaction, please don’t Google phone numbers. Just call 9-1-1 on the phone," said Smith.