Dialing 911 can be for things other than emergencies

It has been ingrained in our brains for many years: Only call 911 in emergency situations.

Most of us might not realize that has changed: police in Marquette County indeed encourage residents to use 911 for non-emergencies as well.

This is not a recent development, according to Gary Johnson, manager of Marquette County Central Dispatch. It’s something police agencies have been trying to get people to do for some 15 years.

“It’s something we’ve done, encouraged, for a long time,” Johnson said. “Any time you need police, fire, EMS dispatched to you, dial 911.”

Johnson said, for example, callers should dial 911 for incidents such as a stolen bicycle or a vehicle stuck in the snow.

While residents of larger metropolitan areas are typically discouraged from dialing 911 for those non-emergency situations, Marquette County is in a unique position. The county’s size makes it possible for Marquette County Central Dispatch, based at the Michigan State Police Post in Negaunee Township, to handle a large volume of calls, Johnson said.

More than that, Johnson said 911 calls can provide dispatchers with more information about the location of a caller, which is helpful for responders.

That makes calling 911 a more efficient way for both residents and local agencies to dispatch police, fire and/or EMS services when needed, said Johnson.

However, 911 should only be used if police, fire or EMS services need to be dispatched.

As Johnson said, “If you’re just looking for information … we don’t want you calling 911.”