911 calls up exponentially during Wednesday wind storm

911 calls up exponentially during Wednesday wind storm

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - The Amarillo Emergency Communications Center is reporting that 911 calls increased exponentially during Wednesday’s wind storm.

According to a news release, the center experienced spikes in calls for service from 11:00 a.m. through Midnight, reporting more than 700 calls coming into the center. The highest spike of 99 calls for 911 assistance between 3:00 p.m and 4:00 p.m.

“We were chasing the 911 calls, which the calls for service were power lines, trampolines, people that were hit by sheet metal, elderly people that were being blown over, that sort of thing,” said co-manager for the dispatch center Jeremy Hill.

The center brought in extra dispatchers in anticipation of the wind event and had other employees come in early as calls began to surge.

Dispatchers also had to allocate resources from the Amarillo Fire Department to assist with wind related incidents.

“It’s very, very seldom that we run out of fire trucks and yesterday, for a period of time, even after bringing in additional personnel and trucks, we had to shut down medical services and assisting AMS in their medical runs,” said Hill.

AECC was able to meet the time set forth by the National Fire Protection Association of 95 percent of calls answered in 15 seconds or less.

On Wednesday, AECC answered 731 911 calls. That’s compared to 285 calls on Tuesday when there was no wind storm.

However, not every call was an emergency. The dispatch center wants to remind people when it’s appropriate to call 911.

“If your power is out, obviously the fire department and police department can’t help with that. Go ahead and call Xcel. If you do have a broken pole, go ahead and call Xcel. If it’s arcing, sparking, causing a fire, go ahead and call 911 if you’re in immediate danger,” said AECC Supervisor Amanda McClendon.

Hill goes on to say that 911 is not the number that should be used to call and ask questions, such as those regarding power outages.

“We’re fully aware of that stuff," he said. “911 needs to be clean for people who are having life and death emergencies. So in these big events, that’s imperative for the public to remember.”

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