CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – New technology will likely make it easier for people in Charleston County to receive assistance during a non-emergency situation.
More than 37,000 non-emergency calls were made in Charleston County within the last three months. But new technology aims to help with the influx of calls coming into the 911 dispatch center.
“Things like, I was away this weekend, and I heard a dog barking someone should check on it. Those are really non-emergencies,” Director of Charleston County Emergency Communications, Jim Lake said.
Calls like that have been answered by emergency operators for decades in Charleston County – which can lead to fewer operators answering a serious call for help.
“Those calls are also taking away from our call taker, who are answering our 911 calls,” Lake said.
“Matthew” is the name of the voice behind Charleston County’s new machine-operated non-emergency number.
“Press 1 for English and 2 for Spanish. Please give a brief description of your call. You can say things like animal control or check the welfare,” Matthew said in a demonstration call.
Lake said the tool will help the center be more efficient while still providing service to the public.
With the help of Matthew and the new number, which is 843-743-7200, non-emergencies will be handled separately from real emergencies that need a 911 operator.
How it works is simple.
You call 843-743-7200, “and Matthew is going to ask you a few questions and get you through the process and ask why you’re calling today,” Lake said.
If the emergency isn’t urgent, a link to an online reporting tool will be texted to your phone, and then help will be on the way.
Overall, directors say it will give operators more space to focus on urgent situations.
“Annually, we feel that this will probably reduce our call volume going to people by at least 20% and that’s a large number when you start thinking about the amount of time spent on these calls,” Lake said.
Emergency operations say this number can also be used to call first responders to a scene if 911 fails.