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Firework complaints delay 911 emergency calls

Posted at 8:21 PM, Jun 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-28 21:21:20-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — With the 4th of July approaching, fireworks remain a big discussion. People start lighting them off, and the complaints from neighbors start coming in. If you do decide to call in a complaint, calling 911 is doing more harm than good.

“It’s amazing how we will take call after call after call about things that are not emergencies on 911,” says Donna McKain, 911 Operator for Douglas County.

Firework complaints are considered non-emergency calls, so when you call into 911 for that reason, it can delay help for those that really need it.

“If a call comes into 911 we don’t know if it’s an emergency or a non emergency call so when we take a non emergency call such as a noise complaint we have to put that person on hold,” says Rachel Porter, Supervisor at Douglas County Dispatch.

In dealing with non-emergency calls, it can cause a delay in helping those who are in serious need of assistance. Sometimes those calls really can’t wait.

“It can be extremely frustrating even waiting for a minute if you have a life threatening emergency, a minute is not a long time yet it can be a long time if you are in a life threatening situation,” says Porter.

If you have a firework complaint, you need to call 402-444-5802. Let the person know who answers that it’s a firework complaint right away. The line is not meant to provide any information regarding firework questions.

“They will call in and ask lots of questions like when are fireworks legal, things like that, that can be answered by the Omaha Police Department front desk or their website,” says Porter.