Dispatchers in Yakima Deal With False Alarm Calls Quite Often - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Dispatchers in Yakima Deal With False Alarm Calls Quite Often

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When a 911 call comes in dispatchers have to be ready at a moments notice, but sometimes those calls are a dud. When a 911 call comes in dispatchers have to be ready at a moments notice, but sometimes those calls are a dud.
YAKIMA, WA - When dispatchers get the call, there is no time to waste.

"We have to be ready to respond at all times, have our gear ready, we're mentally ready, physically ready, so when the alarm goes off, we're ready to go and be moving out that door," said firefighter Travis Hellewell.

But when it is a false alarm that makes things a bit more difficult.

"The frustrating part about a false alarm call for us is we need to be ready to respond to the calls we need to be there for.  If we're tied up on a false alarm, it could effect our response time for a crew getting to a more important call." Hellewell said.

Stacey Garcia has worked at SunComm Dispatch in Yakima for more than 12 years.  She said in her time, she has heard plenty of false calls that have left her speechless.

"Honestly if you can think of it, we've probably heard it, so we get some really interesting things.  Just run of the mill, every day things and then others we're like 'can you believe this?!'" Garcia said.

In 2013 there were more than 8,000 calls made to the Yakima Fire Department. 530 of those were false alarms, which is about 6%.

Even though that number seems small it is still a lot of work for dispatchers and fire crews.

Garcia from SunComm said during the summer they get about 12,000 calls every month with Yakima Police and Fire combined.

If it is a hang up they call back at least twice to make sure there is no emergency.

They can also send an officer to the location, or look up past calls from that number.

"A lot of times it just ends up being someone that sat on their phone and dialed a button that's come into us, but we always follow up on it," Garcia said.

For dispatchers and emergency crews that means they always have to be on their toes.

"We just need to make sure we're ready.  And when we do get there, if it's a false alarm, then we come back to the station, we regroup and we're ready to respond to the next call," Hellewell said.

But when it comes to calling 911 they said it is always better to be safe than sorry if you think there is an emergency.
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