Heidi Zemach for SCN –
Have you ever tried dialing 911, hoping for emergency assistance, and had to wait longer than you wanted for service? Recently some complaints about the delay reached the city administration. City Manager Jim Hunt advised residents that if they want quick attention, they can call the police department’s business number directly at 224-3338.
“Our 911 calls are routed through a PSAP (Public Safety Answering Point) in Soldotna,” explained City Police Lt. Louis “Butch” Tiner. The delays occur when Seward calls are answered by the Soldotna Public Safety Communication Center. The Soldotna dispatchers don’t always pick up if they receive a Seward area call, he said. However, in many cases, calls are answered in Soldotna. The reasons; the system can’t distinguish whether the call is coming from inside, or outside the city limits or the call is from a cellular phone.
When the Soldotna Communication Center sees a 911 call coming from the Seward area, and the system cannot determine the exact location of the call, the call is answered and the caller is asked for their location and the nature of the emergency. If it is determined that the caller is calling from inside the City of Seward however, the caller is routed to Seward Dispatch. If the caller is calling from outside the City and the nature is a medical or fire emergency south of Mile 38 Seward Highway, the caller is routed to Seward Dispatch. If the caller is calling from outside the City limits and needs law enforcement, the call is routed to the Alaska State Troopers.
Seward residents may feel that they are better off calling the Seward Police business line directly. The problem with this is the Seward Dispatch is trained that 911 calls and radio transmissions from law enforcement officers in the field take priority over business line calls, Tiner said. The delay in calls being answered by Soldotna and then routed to Seward may not be as long a delay as the Seward Dispatch answering priority calls before the business line.
To recap, the Seward Police Department would prefer all emergency calls be through the 911 system, however if a caller experiences a problem with the 911 system they should call the business line at (907)224-3338.