Calling 911 For Help With The Bus? Why Amarillo Needs 311 Now
One of the things that I love about the job that I do is getting out and about and meeting folks here in the Amarillo community you may not get to know and hearing about what they do for a living and what they see including their war stories and after talking to a 9-1-1 operator, I came away with a new appreciation for their job.
They are truly unsung heroes.
911 Operators are the ultimate multitaskers, They are certified by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) in law enforcement codes, certified in first aid and CPR and can also perform the functions of data entry and dispatch under extreme pressure. Let's face it. When you call 911, you're not calling to chat about your day (and please don't. each line could be a major issue) . Operators will tell you they see people at their worst point.
The calls aren't always emergencies
The wonderful dispatcher I spoke with at the Amarillo Job Fair talked about folks who call in about cats, wanting to know the weather, what time the next parade starts or even just out of sheer loneliness. She mentioned that on occasion she has been a sounding board just for someone who wanted to get something off their chest (if you want to do this, podcasting could be for you)
Amarillo Needs 311
Sometimes you just want to call about Mosquitos in your yard and you need vector control, or a dog catcher, Perhaps you're the person calling 911 about the bus? These are all things that a 311 system could handle and surprisingly Amarillo is one of the largest cities in the state that does not currently have such a system. These systems are customer service systems that get every department in a much more accessible spot for citizens and if it happens to be something that needs to be escalated they can easily make the transfer if needed.
The city has had a few false starts with getting 311 established back in 2016 at the time Councilmain Nair even told the press
"It will make 911 more efficient, effective, It will give people a good way of getting information. It's just 311. It's easy to dial. And a lot of other cities have this kind of dichotomy."
So what happened? What do we need to do to get this system going? Was it a funding thing? Granted we have to spend money fixing stupid things like kids vandalizing splashpads but something like this shouldn't have been cut. I sincerely hope for the sake of getting stuff done that the city can look into getting this back on track
Speaking of calling for help, if you see any of these folks or know anything about one of these mysteries below, your help could solve a mystery