Jeff Rusiecki and his staff at the Astoria Dispatch Center tend to be heard but not seen.

They and the other professionals who do similar jobs in Clatsop and Pacific counties are unsung heroes in the law enforcement and emergency rescue community. They receive dozens of calls a day, which range from reports of deaths and accidents to missing persons or requests for help.

They also receive many bogus calls. Luckily, few are from people calling in hoaxes (which is a criminal offense). Most are mistaken calls, like someone who sits on their cellphone and dials 911 accidentally (don’t laugh, it does happen). Rusiecki estimates about 10 to 15 percent of the 12,000 calls to 911 each year fall into this category.

So with the help of Rusiecki, during 911 Education Month, here are some tips on how to use 911 – when it is really needed.

It is appropriate to call 911 when you need to save a life, stop a crime or report a fire. It is the correct number to call in an emergency when a prompt response is needed.

Stay calm and provide the information the dispatcher needs. Enhanced 911 technology in many cases immediately tells a dispatcher where you are calling from, if you dial on a landline. But with the prevalence of cellphones, often the most important question to answer right away is your location.

Texting 911 isn’t an option, so don’t try it.

Some other tips:

• Lock your cellphone keypad when you’re not using it, so 911 isn’t dialed by mistake. For the same reason, don’t put 911 on speed dial.

• Do not give old phones to children as toys. Many wireless phones with no active service can still call 911.

• And if you do accidentally call 911, stay on the line and tell the dispatcher that you do not have an emergency. Don’t just hang up, even though it is embarrassing.

As Rusiecki says, “In an emergency, seconds matter, so being knowledgeable and prepared can make all the difference.”

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