Officials hope new plan will combat 911 misuse

An ice cold Sprite is pretty tempting on a hot day.  But would you consider dialing 911 to get one?  One lady did.

"I've made calls myself to residents, and I'll get there, and there's a ring stuck on their finger," said Brenda Harper of the Memphis Fire Department.

In other words, 911 misuse is nothing new.  Some offenders make so many frivolous calls, operators know them by name.

"We do have some individuals we're intimately familiar with because they call so often," said Deputy Chief Gary Ludwig.

Ludwig oversees EMS for the Memphis Fire Department.  That's where a brand new plan is in the works to stop 911 misuse.

"We have a litany of problems people have and a litany of resources available to them out there," say Ludwig.  "Our goal is to educate them and pathway them into these other resources," he adds.

Brenda Harper is in charge of the 911 alternative plan.  Many problem callers have already been identified.  They include people who make at least three frivolous 911 calls a month.

"And after three in a month, that's what we call chronic," says Harper.

Chronic callers who put people with real emergencies at risk.

"We'll still take you wherever you want to go, but you've just tied up resources for the person next door who very well may be having a heart attack," says Harper.

"If you've called 911 repeatedly, we have you identified," says Ludwig.

Teaching those people where else to turn is the primary part of this new plan.  Officials aim to address 911 misuse from the main call center on down.  They suggest you dial-up a doctor if your medical emergency is not life or death.

Call 545-COPS for a non-emergency dealing with crime.