This department is led by the Director of Emergency Services and comprises three separate offices:
- The Office of the County Fire Coordinator
- The Office of Emergency Management
- The Office of Emergency Communications 911 Center
Use our site as a resource for the Oneida County 911 live feed, emergency planning, and guidance on disaster prevention and mitigation.
How do I obtain a county 911 number for my new residence or property?
The Oneida County Planning Department coordinates the issuance of all new County property 911 numbers. They can be contacted at 315-798-5710. The address application form and instructions can be found here, 911_AddressingApplication_Template (003).pdf (ocgov.net)
I am hearing impaired. Is there any other way to reach 911 besides calling?
Along with calling the number 911 for emergency assistance, Oneida County residents now have the option to text 911. The ability to text Oneida County 911 became effective in November 2014 and is only for AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon users at this time.
Just because Text-to-911 works in Oneida County, do not assume that it will work in other adjacent areas as other local PSAPs (Public Safety Answering Points) do not have this capability, yet. Text-to-911 is only available in limited areas throughout 14 states at this time and although, the FCC is requiring that all wireless providers begin delivering emergency texts to requesting PSAPs by June 30, 2015, the FCC does not have the authority to require all PSAPs to accept text messages (http://www.fcc.gov/text-to-911)
Being able to text 911 is beneficial to those who are hearing impaired, unable to speak due to medical issues or other special circumstances such as hiding from danger. It is a valuable tool, but should not replace calling 911. When possible, calling 911 is preferred to texting 911 as information is relayed much easier and quicker through spoken conversation as opposed to texting back and forth.
To initiate a Text-to-911, enter 911 as your contact and write a text message as you normally would. What should be included in the first text is the address where the emergency is occurring and a brief description of what the emergency is. Upon first receiving the text, the 911 dispatcher will ask if it is possible for you to call 911. If not, the dispatcher will continue texting with you to obtain all necessary information on the emergency. We will need to know the full address including any apartment or lot number and exactly what is happening. Be brief and to the point but refrain from using abbreviations. Please stay focused, on topic and try to answer the dispatcher’s questions to the best of your ability.
Also, emoticons, photos and videos will not work so do not try to send them. To sum it up, only text when you cannot call. Make sure to give the correct address of the emergency with apartment or lot number, if it pertains. Be brief and concise in your explanation of what is happening. Do not try to send photos, videos or use emoticons as the system is not set up to accept these, yet
How can I call for help if I don’t speak English or am deaf or hearing impaired?
The Oneida County 911 Center uses a company called Voiance for language interpretation. Voiance offers 24/7 Over-the-Phone Interpretation (OPI) in over 200 languages, Translation and Localization in over 100 Languages and Video Remote Interpretation (www.voiance.com/About-Voiance-Language-Services.aspx)
In our community, interpretation services are needed now more than ever. Did you know that Oneida County has the fourth highest concentration of refugees in the United States? The City of Utica alone has hosted over 12,000 refugees over the past 25 years from 31 countries. That makes up 12% of the entire population (http://www.ocgov.net/google). In total, there’s over 40 languages that are spoken in this community including American Sign Language, as the New York State School for the Deaf is located in Rome.
When a 911 dispatcher receives an emergency call and is unable to converse with the caller due to a language barrier, an already stressful situation intensifies. This is where Voiance Language Interpretation comes into play. The dispatcher attempts to obtain the language spoken and connects to the Voiance service. The Voiance operator connects the dispatcher and caller to the proper interpreter and then information can be gathered and the appropriate help can be sent. As dispatchers, we are used to dealing with emergency situations but when there is a language issue, it is important for the caller to remember to stay calm, cooperate with the dispatcher and remain on the line. There is a slight time delay and there may be some silent period on the line while we are connecting to Voiance, but in order for us to be able to send the right kind of help to the correct location, these services are necessary. Along with Voiance, the Oneida County 911 Center is also equipped to use TTY; the
telecommunicating device for the deaf. When we receive these calls, we are able to type back and forth with the deaf or hearing impaired caller to obtain the necessary information to get the appropriate help on the way. We have preprogrammed questions as well as the ability to type freely and converse with the caller. These two programs are alternative ways to make sure all of the citizens of Oneida County get the emergency help they need in a timely fashion. At Oneida County 911, we strive to serve the public to the best of our abilities.
911 and the Older Generation I don’t want to bother 911! I’ll be ok!
We’re here for emergencies so if you have one, call us. There is no need for embarrassment, shame or to feel that you are putting us out or bothering us. It’s our job to be helpful, professional and to send you assistance. Here are a few suggestions to making sure that all goes smoothly in case you ever do encounter an emergency and have to call 911. Please call 911 directly unless you are unable to do so. It is much easier for the dispatcher to get the information directly from the source and to be able to provide the caller with instructions as opposed to going through a third party that is not on the scene. If you would like a family member or friend notified, the dispatcher can do this for you or you can call after the dispatcher has got all the pertinent information from you. Be advised, we do ask a lot of questions but these are designed to assist the responders until help arrives. Make sure your house is marked clearly with your address and that if it is dark out, turn on your outside lights. An issue that occurs occasionally is the victim being inside the house injured or incapacitated with no way of unlocking the door. Hiding a key outside the residence or giving a key to a trusted neighbor allows rescuers to gain entry without damaging property or having to wait for a key holder to respond. Having a list with your name, date of birth, medical problems and allergies, and all medications with dosages is helpful to the responders and physicians should you be transported to the hospital. A good place to tack it up is on the refrigerator or someplace that is visible and will be noticed by rescuers.
It is also a good idea to carry a copy of this list with you in case you are not at home. Know your location if you are not at home. Be aware of your surroundings, what road you are on and of any businesses or road markers in the area. If you feel you would like more information on 911 and emergencies, feel free to contact your local fire department, police department or ambulance and they can answer the questions you may have or direct you to somebody who can.
What can I do with my old cell phone when I get a new one?
There are many options for what you can do with your old cell phone when you upgrade to a new one and NONE of them involve giving away a functional cell phone with a working battery to be used as a toy!
What people do not know is that a cell phone, even if no longer connected to a plan or containing a SIM card, can still dial 911 for emergencies if it has power. We’ve had hundreds of calls over the years by babies, young children and even the mentally challenged. They were given the old cell phones to play with consequently resulting in the child calling into the 911 center numerous times until either the battery runs out, the dispatcher is able to get the child to hand the phone over to an adult or we are able to track the phone and contact the owner another way such as sending a police officer over to investigate, etc. This is not only a waste of time for the dispatcher who often has to decipher whether there is an actual emergency on the line but also for the resources that have to be dispatched to check the area. If it is discovered that the child is maliciously calling and harassing 911 or falsely reporting incidents, it can be a prosecutable offense which may be punishable with a fine or jail time.
Also, civil fines may be issued to the parents of young callers repeatedly dialing 911 without good reason or while playing on the phone. (http://www.popcenter.org/problems/911_abuse/3) On a positive note, there are many programs that take old cell phones and recycle them in various ways to benefit different charities. www.CellPhonesforSoldiers.com Cell Phones for Soldiers Inc. is a family-run nonprofit organization founded by 12 and 13 year old Robbie and Brittany Bergquist of Norwell, MA. It is dedicated to providing free communication services to active-duty military members and veterans. Every $5 monetary contribution or donated device valued at $5, will provide troops with 2.5 hours of FREE talk time.
Since its inception in 2004, this program has provided more than 200 million minutes of free talk time and has recycled more than 11 million cell phones reducing the impact on landfills. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence works to eliminate domestic violence, empower battered women and children, promote and unify direct service programs, alert and educate the public and promote partnerships. This agency collects used cell phones and select digital electronics to be refurbished and sold or broken down and recycled for parts. Monies raised fund educational programming working to end domestic violence, cosmetic and reconstructive surgery programs that provide free services to victims of domestic violence that bear the scars of physical abuse and job skills building and financial education projects that help victims of violence get on their feet.
Shelter Alliance contributes $30 or more to domestic violence shelters in your local area for each recycled phone and other select electronic devices. It is the largest cell phone recycling program in the US and participants have earned over $10 million since 2001. This agency also provides fundraising options to specifically target a shelter in need.
Sprint Project Connect collects and recycles cell phones, batteries, data cards and accessories. Along with keeping millions of phones out of landfills, the net proceeds from all equipment collected fund and promote free internet safety resources for children, parents and educators.
The American Cell Phone Drive is an organization devoted to the socially responsible reuse of retired cell phones and components. They can be used as fundraisers for schools and charitable organizations while keeping the hazardous materials found in cell phones out of landfills. Used by over 5,000 local and national charitable organizations.
These are just a few of the organizations that I found on a quick internet search that recycle old cell phones and provide a much better use for them than giving them to children to play with. Go Green - RECYCLE and help out some great causes
To Call or Not to Call ... 911 Should I or shouldn’t I call 911 when I have a problem?
Here are a few things to consider.
- First, is this actually an emergency?
- Does this situation pose an immediate threat to life, health, property or environment?
- Is there a high probability of escalating to cause immediate danger to life, health, property or environment?
Many calls to 911 are not emergencies; which at times may overwhelm the 911 center. These calls can be handled outside the emergency system freeing up resources for actual life threatening emergencies. Here is a list of common issues that we receive on 911 or police department lines that can be handled in other ways:
- Requests for phone numbers – call the operator, 411, look it up online or use a good old phonebook!
- Property damage complaints due to weather such as a tree branch falling onto your car during a storm or unintentional, non-criminal acts like your vehicle being damaged while in a car wash, should be directed to the appropriate agencies that handle these problems (your insurance company, the phone number listed on the car wash in case of emergencies, etc.)
- Road and weather conditions – check the news or go online.
- Problems with your phone – contact your phone provider.
- Power outages – If it is just a general power outage and you do not know the source of the outage such as wires down, contact your power company - National Grid 1-800- 867-5222, NYSEG 1-800-572-1131, Boonville Municipal Power 315-942-4461, Sherrill Power & Light 315-363-6479.
- Vehicle lockouts – Unless your vehicle is running, somebody or a pet is locked in your vehicle, most agencies (with a few exceptions) will not assist with opening your vehicle. You need to contact a tow company or an automobile assistance plan like AAA.
- DMV information such as driver’s license and vehicle registration information – contact your local DMV office.
- Disagreements over ownership of property is often a civil issue and needs to be referred to small claims court or to a lawyer. If things get out of hand, though, please call 911.
- Questions about fireworks celebrations, parades, Halloween Trick or Treating times, etc should all be directed to the media or whatever agency is promoting the event.
- Non-emergency animal complaints (which is a topic all its own covered in another article) -should be directed to the appropriate resource. Society seems to be becoming an “I want it, I need it now” society. Take the time to find the right person to handle the job correctly the first time. Doing that save the frustration you feel when having to be redirected to the proper agency to handle your problem but it also saves time and resources in the emergency services system.
911 & Child Safety What does my child need to know about 911?
Did you know that children usually make the best callers? They often remain calm in the face of an emergency and are very cooperative. There is a great call going around the internet about a 5 year old from Indiana who called 911 and saved her father’s life when he suffered from shortness of breath and could not speak. Just google “child calls 911” and you’ll be surprised at how many child heroes we have!
Here is a link to a video with three 911 calls from children that helped to save lives: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Z0vlAdzr8s
The following are some points to go over with your child to prepare him/her for emergencies and calling 911.
- Make sure your child knows what an actual emergency is. Just as often as a child uses 911 appropriately, sometimes a child can misuse 911. These calls usually are not intentional or malicious, but young ones need to realize that even though 911 is there to help, we are only helpful in true emergencies. As with the call going around the internet about the 5 year old girl saving her father’s life, there is also a call going around about a child calling 911 for homework help. As cute as that clip was, it is still not an emergency meriting a call to 911.
- While on the subject of non-emergency calls to 911, make it known to your child not to play with the phone or make prank phone calls to 911. Not only is this an inconvenience to the dispatcher that answers, it also ties up emergency phone lines as well as first responders that have to investigate the call and may result in criminal charges depending on the severity of the situation. If your child does call 911 in error, make sure your child stays on the line to verify there is no emergency. Just advise him/her to tell the truth and be honest about what occurred.
- Some of the most important things for your child to know that may go overlooked is his/her full name, home address and phone number, and mom’s and dad’s real names, along with work and cell phone numbers, if used. And for times when you are not at home, make sure your child knows where he/she is at. You can show your child how to find an address if not at home, by finding mail inside the residence or business, reading the numbers on the house or mailbox, looking for street signs or business signs nearby, asking safe, familiar people in the area (beware of strangers, though), etc.
It is important to practice these with your children so in a time of emergency it will be second nature for him/her.
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