CLARK, NJ – Emergency medical response to a Clark resident was delayed by approximately 15 minutes due to an overflow of calls to the emergency call center during a recent storm, Police Chief Pedro Matos explained during the July 15 council meeting.

“There was a time there for about 40 minutes, where our 911 center was inundated and we were basically paralyzed,” Matos said, referring to the storm that occurred June 29.

“Unfortunately, this time around, there was an incident during this time where a medical emergency did occur and the medical response was delayed by, I’m calculating about 15 minutes,” he said. “The person who was calling 911 could not get to us because our 911 system was stopped up with people calling to report that there’s a tree down.”

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Matos said many of the calls the police department received during the storm should have instead been directed to the department’s administrative line, which handles non-emergencies.

“[The department was] just basically fielding calls ‘a tree came down in my backyard’ or ‘a tree is leaning up against my house,’” Matos said. “I ask that, even if a tree is leaning up against your house, if there isnt an active fire, theres no one hurt, [and] there’s no immediate emergency, do not call 911.”

“Please call our administrative line. Maybe wait a little while until everything kind of calms down and then report it,” he added later. “We could not receive […] the 911 calls that we should have received because everyone was calling to report that there was a tree down. Please, in the future, if there is no medical emergency, if there is no fire emergency, there’s no need to call 911 to report that there is a tree down.”

The Clark Police Department’s administrative line is (732) 388-3434.