To facilitate the phone calls coming in regarding the Great American Total Solar Eclipse, the City of Idaho Falls has established a call center, effective immediately.
The call center will be staffed daily from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. by City of Idaho Falls employees. It will remain open until the eclipse-related calls decrease following the event on August 21.
Eclipse Call Center Number: (208) 612-8811
The purpose of the call center is to provide a means of communicating general eclipse information for residents and guests coming to area.
“The call center does not take the place of 9-1-1 for emergency phone calls or the Police Department’s emergency reporting number of (208) 529-1200,” states Idaho Falls Fire Chief Dave Hanneman. “It is simply a place to direct people to for general eclipse-related information.”
In an emergency, 9-1-1 is the fastest, easiest way to communicate with law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services. As call volumes are also expected to increase for emergency dispatchers, the public is reminded to only call 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency. An emergency is defined as a potential threat to life or property, which requires immediate response from law enforcement, the fire department and/or emergency medical services.
When to call 911:
- Ask yourself, is assistance needed right now to protect life or property? If the answer is yes, call 9-1-1.
- If you are not sure the situation is a true emergency, call 9-1-1 anyway and let the call taker make the final determination.
- When using a landline to call 9-1-1, simply pick up the receiver, wait for the dial tone and dial 9-1-1. Some phone systems require the caller to dial "9" for an outside line before dialing 9-1-1.
- When calling 9-1-1 using a landline, the call is free.
- Some coin-operated phones require coins to get a dial tone; otherwise, no money is needed.
- Communication centers that answer 9-1-1 calls have special text telephones or built-in software for responding to 9-1-1 calls from callers with hearing/speech-impairments, using a TDD/TTY. If the caller with the hearing/speech-impairment does not use a TDD/TTY, this caller should call 9-1-1 and stay on the line. Do not hang up.
- 9-1-1 handles calls from non-English speaking callers. Simply follow the instructions for a regular 9-1-1 call. When necessary, the 9-1-1 call taker will add an interpreter, usually from an outside service to assist with the call. A non-English speaking caller may hear a short conversation in English and some clicking sounds as the interpreter is added to the line. The caller should not hang up.
- Idaho Falls also has text-to-9-1-1. However, callers should always dial 9-1-1, if they have the ability to do so. Texting 9-1-1 should only be used for emergencies when the caller is unable to dial and speak with a person. Texting works the same as calling 9-1-1, but is handled through text messages. It is important to note that not all cities and counties have the 9-1-1 texting capability.
- If you call 9-1-1 by mistake, do not hang up. Tell the call taker what happened so they know there is no emergency at your location.
- The 9-1-1 center may not cover the area you are in – they may have to transfer you to another agency.
- Help reduce accidental calls to 9-1-1 by only calling when you have an emergency, not storing your cell phone in a place where it could accidentally dial 9-1-1 (pocket/purse dials), and not allowing children to play with active or non-active cell phones.
Calling 9-1-1 using a cell phone:
- Be prepared to tell the 9-1-1 call taker:
- The location of the emergency – having the address is the best information. Street intersections, mile markers, landmarks are helpful if the address is unknown.
- Your name and phone number.
- What the emergency is.
- Be prepared to stay on the phone to continue to provide information.
- When using a cell phone, the call may be disconnected if the signal is lost. Be sure to call back if you are disconnected.
- If are having difficulty making a call to 9-1-1 using a cell phone, find the nearest landline.
- If you are in a moving vehicle when making a cell phone call to 9-1-1, please pull over. It is unsafe and difficult to obtain all of the information needed when the caller is moving farther away from the emergency. If you are the one in need of help, stopping will also allow the responders to locate you.
What to say:
- When calling 9-1-1, stay calm and state your emergency or the agency you require.
- Do exactly as the 9-1-1 call taker tells you during the call.
- Listen carefully to the 9-1-1 call taker and answer all questions as accurately as possible. Speak loudly, clearly, and slowly. It is difficult for the call taker to understand what is being said when callers speak too fast or yell.
- Sample questions would be your name, address, call back number, etc.
- In an emergency, help is normally on the way while you are still answering questions – believe it when they tell you help is on the way.
- Stay on the line if it is safe to do so, and do not hang up until you are told to do so by the 9-1-1 call taker. If you must leave the phone, leave the receiver off the hook.
We are encouraging the public to stay tuned to local city, county and media communication channels over the next 10-14 days for continued eclipse updates.
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