St. Louis County 911 Dispatch Center flooded with “Non-Emergency” calls

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BALLWIN, MO (KPLR) - As the water rises, St. Louis County’s 911 dispatch center is getting flooded with calls. Many of the calls involve real emergencies – but others are simply tying up lines.

“We only have a certain amount of 911 phone lines. And we need to keep those open for people with injuries, or life or death emergencies,” Public Safety Dispatcher Meghan Grellner.

Grellner and her colleagues at the Emergency Communications Center are working 12-hour shifts as the area braces for a busy week.

“Very, very busy,” she said. “We’ve had lot of calls for the flooding, absolutely.”

But not every flooding-related phone calls would be classified as a real emergency, she said.

Tuesday afternoon, she took a call from someone inquiring whether I-44 was shut down at Gray Summit.

“Yes, it’s really shut down,” she explained. “But that’s not an emergency.”

In many cases, these non-emergency requests for help can be addressed by simply checking webpages for MODOT, St. Louis County, or watching the news, she said.

Many of the phone calls involve power outages – something that does not involve first responders unless a danger is posed.

“Unless those lines are arcing or sparking, or touching the water, or causing a hazard for drivers, or things of that nature, we cannot help turn your power back on. Or find out why your power’s not on. The best thing that we can suggest for you to do would be to call Ameren [Missouri].”

St. Louis County Police are encouraging the public to consider calling the non-emergency line: 636-529-8210.

A car break-in the previous night, for example would warrant a call to the non-emergency line.

“If your emergency, or what you what you feel is the emergency is not happening right now, or did not happen in the past 15 to 20 minutes, it is not a true life or death emergency, we prefer that you call our non-emergency phone line. It does not mean that we won’t send an officer to you. It does not mean you won’t get help to you,” Grellner said.