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By Nancy Hahn

The new Jefferson County 911 dispatch center, called Jeffcom 911, will provide shorter response times and better service for emergencies throughout Jeffco. Over 65,000 emergency calls are expected by the center each month. What to do in an emergency hasn’t changed – call 911.

So, what is the advantage of this central dispatch center? Smaller, localized 911 centers can be overwhelmed with calls. The biggest problem had been people calling for non-emergencies. Many people don’t know the numbers to call for a non-emergency, but everyone remembers 911. The lines become tied up, so a person with a real emergency can’t get through and gets only a busy signal. A genuine emergency, also, results in a flood of calls. When every call taker is already on a call, the response to emergencies can be delayed. When the emergency is genuine, those busy lines can be a hazard to people in danger, also.

How do you decide whether to call 911 or the non-emergency line? A 911 emergency is a situation that requires a firefighter, medical help, or a police officer right away. A fire breaks out – call 911! Someone has chest pain, is choking, threatening suicide, or has sudden severe pain – call 911! You see a burglary or an assault happening – call 911!  You see a car crash – call 911!

Do not call 911 if the neighbor’s dog is barking, if the power goes out, or to discuss paying a fine.

If you are alone and hear someone break in your home – call 911. If you come home and someone has broken in your home, call the non-emergency number.

If you aren’t sure, call 911 and let the 911 operator help you decide. Stay as calm as possible, give the call taker all the information, and answer all questions. Once you have done that, the operator will let you know if it is an emergency.

When you call 911, listen and follow the directions the operator gives you. Be ready to provide the address, cross streets, or another way to identify the location. This is very important if you are on a cell phone, because the operator can’t pinpoint your location.

What if you realize you have dialed 911 by mistake? Stay on the line. Explain your mistake to the call taker. Why? This ensures that no time is wasted calling you back or even sending emergency vehicles.

Who do you call with a problem if it isn’t an emergency? Police and fire departments have non-emergency phone numbers. Your town’s website probably provides the non-emergency police department number, as well as other commonly requested phone numbers. There are several fire stations in most towns, so check for the non-emergency number of the one nearest to your home. Once you have the non-emergency numbers, make note of them or put them in your phone.

Edgewater’s website (www.edgewaterco.com) provides a link to the City of Edgewater Police Department on its home page. The page for the police department provides Edgewater Police Department’s non-emergency number, 303-322-7273; Jefferson County non-emergency dispatch, 303-277-0211; victim outreach, 303-202-2196; rape assist and awareness, 303-322-7273; and crime stoppers, 720-913-7867. Additional links to contact forms, safety tips, the school resource officer, traffic enforcement, and other topics of interest are listed. The Edgewater Police Department recommends Neighborhood Watch programs as a way to keep neighborhoods safe. More information on the program is available at volunteers@edgewater.com.

Two Creeks and the West Colfax corridor are both served by the Lakewood Police Department, at 445 S. Allison Parkway. The non-emergency phone number is 303-987-7111.Information about Lakewood’s Police Department is found at www.lakewood.org/police/. A menu on the Police Department website includes links and phone numbers for animal control, 303-987-7173; code enforcement, 303-987-7566; crime prevention, community outreach, and more choices. Nearly every link includes additional information and links.

Sloan’s Lake is served by the District 1 Denver Police Department (www.denvergov.org/content/denvergov/en/police-department/police-stations/district-1-station-nw-.html) at 1311 W. 46th Ave. The non-emergency number is 720-913-2000. The Resource Officer for Sloan’s Lake is Officer Robert Gibbs. The website has a list of phone numbers for specific purposes from reporting graffiti to reporting hate crimes. There is, also, a menu of “Most Requested” links, including the cadet program, animal complaints, and neighborhood watch information.

911 has made a huge difference and saved many lives in emergencies. Knowing the non-emergency numbers or how to find them can open a line for a person trying to call 911 in an emergency.