4th of July keeps dispatchers extra busy; callers asked to only dial 911 in true emergencies

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Dispatchers are eager to help anyone facing an emergency, but the 4th of July is extra busy for dispatchers, like those in Marion County.

For that reason, they are asking people to dial 911 only when someone's life is in danger or a crime is being committed in that moment.

"We're asking them to call 911 for those true emergencies only," Maj. Michael Hubbs said.

Maj. Hubbs said calls for noise complaints, specifically from fireworks, house parties and illegally parked cars are examples of situations in which people should call the non-emergency line. That number is 317-327-3811.

"Fireworks is probably our number one abuse of the system," Maj. Hubbs said. "But we also get a lot of calls on directions of travel, illegally parked vehicles, keys locked in cars."

Maj. Hubbs acknowledged it can be difficult to tell the difference between a gunshot and a firework.

"When in doubt, when you don't know whether it was a firework or a gunshot, you call 911 and you let the dispatcher know, 'Hey, I heard a loud noise, and I'm not sure if it was a firework or a gun shot,'" Maj. Hubbs explained.

Maj. Hubbs said they will be fully staffed for the 4th, and some will work overtime to cover the need.

The Marion County Sheriff's Office provides some helpful information for anyone at any time. They urge people to call 911 if a crime is happening in the moment, they notice suspicious activity happening, for fire or medical emergencies, fights or shootings.

They encourage people to dial 317-327-3811 for car break-ins, a wreck without injuries, noise complaints, vandalism, parking issues, potholes and power failures. The dispatchers ask people to never call 911 for legal advice or directions.

"Those calls, when they tie up the system, actually take a 911 dispatcher out of service who really should be answering those true 911 calls where someone could be in serious jeopardy for their lives or injury," Maj. Hubbs said.

As a reminder, if you do call 911, do not hang up and call back, even if you are asked to hold. After you call 911, keep your phone line clear so the dispatcher can get in touch with you again if necessary.

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