There are many times you should call 911. If you or someone around you is in true medical distress, such as experiencing difficulty breathing, chest pains, bleeding, possible stroke, or any other serious health issues, then 911 should be called as soon as possible. If there are wires down, fire, a crime in progress, or other dangerous conditions to people or property, call 911 immediately.
However, if you want to report your neighbors making too much noise or want to find out when the snow plows will get to your street, or any other situation that is not an actual emergency, please call the regular police number at 908-322-7100.
One of our squad members, Joan Lozowski, who spent 29 years as a dispatcher for the Scotch Plains Police Department before recently retiring, said that people would call 911 for all sorts of non-emergency reasons. Some of these calls would be to ask for directions, to check road conditions, to find out when their power would be restored, and to report deer sightings. Her all-time favorite was when someone called to complain that his television remote was not working!
Obviously, these things are not emergencies and some do not require an EMS response at all. Furthermore, calling 911 and requesting an ambulance for a stubbed toe or other minor issue ties up an ambulance and crew and prevents them from responding to other more critical calls. So please take a minute to think: Is it really an emergency? It’s also important for children to understand when they should and should not call 911, so please discuss this with them.
Calling 911 when it isn’t necessary may prevent someone who is having a true crisis from getting through to dispatch. In turn, this can delay the person from getting the help they or their family so desperately need in a timely manner.
So the next time you're thinking about dialing 911, please make sure it’s really necessary. Keep the line and resources available for those who really need them.
The Scotch Plains Rescue Squad is a volunteer organization of Neighbors Helping Neighbors. With over 90 volunteers, we answer emergency calls not only in Scotch Plains but in surrounding towns as well when needed. Besides answering calls, you will see our ambulances at many special events held in town, such as Scotch Plains Day, the Memorial Day Parade, high school football games, and the summer concerts on the Village Green. We are also available to provide demonstrations for Boys and Girls Scout troops, clubs, and any other group that may be interested in what we do.
In addition, we lend out wheelchairs, crutches, canes and other assorted medical equipment free of charge. Our Auxiliary Group holds fund raisers and provides other much needed support for our members. Please reach out to us if there is something we can do for you, or if you would like to become a part of our organization (908) 322-2103 for non-emergencies or email@example.com.
Susan Baldani is a life member of the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad.