Calls to 911 increase on July 4 in East Tennessee

5:51 PM, Jul 4, 2013   |    comments
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Jefferson County E-911 receives about 30% more calls on Independence Day.

(WBIR, Jefferson City/Knoxville) Emergency dispatchers expect a busy Independence Day, due in part to people shooting fireworks where it's outlawed.

"We had a call last year, we ended up running a medical call because the fireworks had scared her in her home. So you never know what you're going to get when you come in on a holiday," said Nikki Collier, a dispatcher for Jefferson County E-911.

The rain could add to the number of calls, as well.

"Whenever people get in their cars and it's raining, our phones will start ringing," Collier said.

By noon, Jefferson County E-911 had taken one call concerning a car accident.

"We still look for around the same call volume, possibly even worse, because of being cooped up because of the rain," said Melissa Murray, dispatch manager for Jefferson County E-911.

Murray said when people are forced to stay inside on a holiday, they expect more domestic calls.

Collier added, "A lot of domestics, families get together and it's fun until someone starts fighting."

According to Murray, calls to dispatch increase by about 30% on July 4. A majority of those calls are because people are illegally shooting off fireworks or noise complaints.

"A lot of the communities are not aware of who can and can't shoot fireworks," Murray said.

At Knox County 911, fireworks are also the most frequent reason callers phone dispatch on July 4.

"Obviously if it's inside Knox County, fireworks are illegal. If you have to go outside of the county to purchase them, it's illegal to bring them back inside the county to shoot them," said Tonya Cum, shift supervisor for Knox County 911.

She went on to say, "Fourth of July is probably one of our busiest. We have Fourth of July, Labor Day and typically New Year's Eve. Those are our busiest holidays."

Dispatchers also receive a lot of calls because of people driving drunk. Cum expects the number of calls to slow down by Sunday night.

If you do have a disturbance that is not an emergency, dispatchers ask you to please not call 911 but instead call their non-emergency line. 

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