When there’s a burglary or car break-in in Wake Forest, most people probably call 911 for help. But the town is reminding residents of another option – a 10-digit phone number that could get police to the scene a few seconds faster.
When someone in Wake Forest dials 911, the call is answered by a dispatcher at the Raleigh-Wake Emergency Communications Center. The dispatcher then determines where the call came from and transfers the call to the Wake Forest Police Department.
But when someone calls the Wake Forest local emergency number – 919-556-9111 – dispatchers in Wake Forest answer the call directly and send police.
If there’s a fire or medical emergency, they send the call to the Emergency Communications Center. Town dispatchers cannot send fire or emergency medical services, said Kelly Palmer, deputy director of the center.
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The local number in Wake Forest dates back to before the countywide 911 system was created.
Years ago, town leaders established a 10-digit emergency number as a service to residents, Town Manager Mark Williams said.
When the town’s emergency services merged with the Raleigh-Wake Emergency Communications Center in the 1980s, the town kept its own dispatch center number.
“We decided to carry that over as a service,” Williams said. “We wanted to give that local touch to our emergency services.”
In Wake County, Apex, Fuquay-Varina and Holly Springs also have their own dispatch centers that can be reached without dialing 911. Those numbers allow local dispatchers to send police to an emergency.
The towns pay to keep their own dispatch centers operating. They must be staffed at all times and abide by the standards set forth by the North Carolina 911 Board, Williams said.
Wake Forest has nine dispatchers on staff. At least least two are working at any given time.
Local dispatch centers must have a back-up communications center in case of an emergency. The Wake Forest Police Department has asked for $250,000 in next year’s budget to create a back-up center.
Along with Raleigh, the only municipalities in Wake County that can dispatch fire or medical responders after receiving a 911 call are Cary and Holly Springs.
Towns pay a fee to be included in the Raleigh-Wake 911 system.
In towns like Wake Forest, which can dispatch police, the fee is based on how many calls are transferred from the Raleigh 911 center to the local dispatch.
Last year, Wake Forest paid just less than $46,000 to the Raleigh-Wake 911 system, Williams said.