Edgebrook association meeting feature OEMC representatives





by BRIAN NADIG

If callers to 911 have a choice of using a cell phone or a landline, the latter is preferred.

That was the recommendation of representatives of the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications who spoke at the Nov. 1 meeting of the Edgebrook Community Association.

"If you have a landline, use the landline," OEMC police communications operator 2 Beverly Carrington told the association. While a cell phone triangulation can pinpoint within 600 to 900 feet of the caller’s location, a landline can give a 911 dispatcher the exact address, she said.

In either case, callers should try to provide an address or two cross streets and indicate if emergency personnel are needed inside or outside the building or what entrances can be used for the easiest access, Carrington said.

Callers can get frustrated by all of the questions which dispatchers ask, but those questions can be necessary to determine the severity of the situation, Carrington said.

Those questions also help determine whether there could be potential dangers or threats to emergency personnel when they arrive, Carrington said. "I have to keep the officers safe when they are responding," she said.

Police are first assigned to incidents where there is an imminent threat to life such as a robbery in progress, then cases with no immediate threat but the offender is nearby, and, finally, nuisance complaints such as permit parking violations, Carrington said.

There is often a lot of confusion about whether 911 or 311 should be called, Carrington said. "911 versus 311. If you want the police, 911. If you want a (non-emergency) city service, 311," she said.

OEMC officials also encouraged residents to create emergency kits for their home and car and said that the kits should include a list of medicines needed for family members, important contact phone number, non-perishable food, water and a blanket.

"Some people were stuck on Lake Shore Drive and had no supplies," senior emergency management coordinator Latesha Tubbs said of emergency calls which the city received during a snowstorm.

Residents can sign up to receive emergency alerts from the city by visiting www.notifychicago.org, Tubbs said. The free service provides text messages or e-mails about a variety of emergencies that can involve severe weather, road closures and hazardous materials.

Tubbs and Carrington said that the city will review its emergency plans, including evacuations, in response to tragedies that have occurred in other cities, and make the appropriate adjustments.