The mounting number of unnecessary, local 9-1-1 calls has forced the hand of the Renfrew Police Services Board.
The new edition of the large-print telephone book for Arnprior, Renfrew and area includes an advertisement at the bottom of the first page.
The advertisement lists 9-1-1 for life-threatening emergencies or when a crime is in progress.
The same advertisement provides two alternative numbers for non-emergencies.
One is the toll-free 1-888-310-1122, which connects the caller to a dispatcher, who would determine where the call would be directed. The second number is 613-432-3211 for general inquiries at the OPP’s Renfrew detachment.
Town councillor Tom Anderson, who sits on the Renfrew Police Services Board, hopes the $1,000 investment pays off in more ways than one, especially since the phone book reaches about 25,000 residents.
Anderson said the number of unnecessary 9-1-1 calls has been climbing steadily over the past few years, so much so that the police services board convinced the producer of the phone book to alter the description of the OPP numbers supplied for each community. As recently as the 2011-12 edition, the toll-free and direct line to the local detachment were listed.
The 2012-13 edition provides the toll-free and detachment numbers as well as 9-1-1 for life-threatening emergencies.
The difficulty with excessive 9-l-1 calls is that two OPP officers must respond, said Anderson.
Not only are there too many calls, but Jeff Scott, vice-chair of the Renfrew Police Services Board, says there are too many accidental pocket-dials of 9-1-1.
Since it’s such an easy number to remember, Scott suggests people exclude 9-1-1 from their list of programmed numbers, to save the OPP both time and expense.
Next year, depending on the success of the advertisement, the local police services board may run the same ad or produce a fridge magnet of the important OPP numbers.
Meanwhile, page one of Bell Canada’s Upper Ottawa Valley business phone book for the Renfrew area lists 9-1-1 as the number to call for emergency situations along with images of fire, police and ambulance. Bell’s first page also lists 11-digit, toll-free numbers for poison information, the OPP, Crime Stoppers, environmental spills, and air/marine search and rescue.