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February 23, 2024

Secrets of the Edgar County Sheriff’s Office – Revealed – Part 2 –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On March 15, 2014

Letter to the Editor:
Let us leave the Sheriff race for a few and talk about 911.
As I mentioned, previously, most of the time, there is only one dispatcher on duty (16 of 24 hours). The Sheriff would like to change that, but there is no money in his budget to make that happen so lets talk about what you can do to help.
911 is for emergency calls only.
An emergency is when you need an immediate response from police, fire, and or ambulance. The key word here is IMMEDIATE. Now, if one is calling for a fire truck or an ambulance chances are extremely good that the need is immediate. For law enforcement assistance…..mmmm maybe not so much.
Here is an example for your consideration: the only dispatcher on duty has just taken a call from a frantic parent whose small child has fallen. The child is unconscious and his breathing is irregular. You have just been in a fender bender in the Kroger parking lot. There are no injuries as the accident happened at about 2 mph. Do you: a) call 911 or b) call the Paris PD on their business line number?. The correct answer is, of course, b. Here’s why a is not the correct answer: by calling 911 you have distracted the dispatcher from paging emergency personnel to the call and/or have interrupted the instructions that the dispatcher is trying to provide to the parent until the ambulance arrives. I know that because you are a considerate, caring person, you do not not want to interfere with a call when a child’s life may hang in the balance.
Here is a second scenario for your consideration: It is 2am your neighbors dog has been barking for thirty minutes, you are fed up, this is the third time this week and you have to be up early to go to work. Do you: a) call the Paris PD on their business line or b) call 911. The correct answer is a. Here is what you may not know, because the Sheriffs dispatcher is the dispatcher for the entire county, a family’s house may be burning far from Paris or even on the other side of Paris.
You have now interfered with the paging of the call and/or radio traffic from the firefighters to dispatch. The firefighters may be asking the dispatcher (the one and only) to call the power company to shut off gas and electric, they may be asking dispatch to contact other fire departments for additional firefighters and equipment, they may be asking for another ambulance. Although, the dispatcher may not be at the scene, their work with the call is not finished until the last firefighter is back at the firehouse. I for one am, also, spending every free moment praying for the safety of the responding personnel and the victims of the call.
So what is the solution to this problem? Right now, while you have a moment, look up the non-emergency number for the Paris PD, and the Edgar County SO. I’ll wait……while we are waiting, for those of you who are my age (not of the techno generation) here are the numbers: Edgar County SO 465-4166, Paris PD 465-6351. Some of you may ask why can’t you just give me the number when I call 911. A) It makes us (and when I say us, I mean me) cross. Remember the definition of an emergency and what the possible outcome of your interference may be. B) I know you are capable, since you are in a non-emergency situation, of finding that number. I know that you know how to use that phone to find your favorite restaurant, check the business hours at your favorite boutique, and find out where the movie you want to see is playing, among many other things.
If you are capable of all that, you can find the business line for the law enforcement agency that serves you. I know you can. But, you say, it is just as easy to give me the number as to say call on the business line. Okay, but here’s the thing, I want you to stand on your own. I want you to be independent. I know you can do this. I believe in you. And I know that you know when you don’t have an emergency, because its, generally, the first statement out of your mouth.
Here is the other big thing you can do to help. Stop letting your young children play with the phone. The adorable little things are interfering with emergency calls. We get hundreds of calls per year from children playing with the phone. Most of them from old cell phones that have been disconnected. Even though the phone has been disconnected, as long as there is a battery in the phone it will call 911. Yes, your children are cute and yes they are unaware of what they are doing, but now, you are not. Put the phone out of their reach or take the battery out of it. We want children to learn to use 911. Lives have been saved by very young children who called 911. But, please for everyone’s sake, teach them to use it properly. 911 is not a toy and it is not your personal link to 411.
In the past, I have gone to 911 board meetings and begged the 911 coordinator to raise public awareness of these issues. I have taken stacks of calls, at her request, to show that there is a problem. My pleadings have been in vain. The only person on the board who was interested in the issue was Paris Fire Chief Brian Gates. Chief Gates offered to pass out information at last year’s county fair. The 911 coordinator declined.
One more thought, you may hear that Douglas County is our back up for 911. This is true. And in the reverse, we are the back up system for Douglas County. However, Douglas County cannot page a single ambulance, fire truck, or law enforcement officer in this county. If a 911 call “rolls over” to Douglas County, their only option is to take the information and call the Sheriffs office on the business line. It works the same in the reverse.
So please remember when you call 911 with a call that you know, in your heart, is not truly an emergency, most of the time there is only one dispatcher, that one dispatcher may be involved in a life or death emergency call, that one dispatcher may be handling multiple emergency calls (not uncommon at all), and that one dispatcher has no back up. Stay tuned for part 3
Donna Throneburg


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  • Rory Steidl
    Posted at 21:55h, 15 March

    Great job, “Donna.” . You’re hitting that nail right on the head – on every swing!

  • Try Again
    Posted at 19:23h, 18 March

    Ever stop to wonder how other cities process the lesser priority call? Oh, that’s right, via 911. Every time I call the non-emergency number in my town it is answered by the 911 dispatcher who then transfers my call to the local district for response. I’m never belittled for using the service my tax dollars support. Interesting that once again the Edgar County Sheriff’s department isn’t capable of doing the same.

    • Donna
      Posted at 01:05h, 23 March

      Try again….As much as I would like to transfer your call, Edgar County 911 does not have the capability to transfer your non-emergency call to the Paris PD (the smaller PDs do not have their own dispatch). Additionally, transferring non- emergency calls does not solve the issue of the only dispatcher on duty being pulled away from a true emergency call to deal with a non-emergency. Please look beyond yourself and consider others. God Blees

  • Try Again
    Posted at 11:10h, 24 March

    Really Donna….you encourage me to look beyond myself and think of others? Perhaps those who live in glass houses shouldn’t cast stones. ********——-site owner took liberty to edit out personal attacks by an anonymous poster—–*******. Back to the issue at hand, taxpayers should not be belittled for using their public service. If the sheriff is unable to manipulate his budget to provide responsible staffing levels that’s his problem to solve, not the taxpayer who is attempting to do the right thing and file an official report. Instead of wasting your time writing letters to the editor perhaps you could start brainstorming ways to work in a second dispatcher during heavy cycles.

    • jmkraft
      Posted at 13:29h, 24 March

      He provides the staffing levels commensurate with the funding levels approved by the county board.

  • Donna
    Posted at 15:31h, 24 March

    Try Again, all I am saying, is that until a second dispatcher is added, it would be a tremedous help if folks who do not have an emergency, and know they don’t have an emergency, would call the business line instead of 911. Here’s why, on the day shift, there is only one dispatcher on duty. The dispatcher is the only one trained to answer 911. However, anyone else who is present can answer the business line. Emergency calls and non-emergency calls could be handled in a more efficient manner with less distraction for the emergency call. With more than one dispatcher, it would not be such an issue, but with one dispatcher it is a huge issue. The issue has nothing to do with the way that the Sheriff budgets his money. It has everything to do, in my opinion, with the priorities set by the county board and the 911 board concerning the safety of its citizens. I hope this clears things up for you. If not, I look forward to talking with you again. Have a blessed day