Our Views: No emergency? Play that catchy Rock County 757-22-44 tune

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Trivial calls to the Rock County 911 Center pose threats to public safety.

“Can you tell me the time?”

“What are trick-or-treating hours?”

“My neighbor's dog won't stop barking!”

Sorry, but no matter what some of you might think, none of the above is a valid reason to dial 911. If operators are busy fielding such calls, they can't promptly answer calls involving real emergencies.

A new public service announcement aims to pull the plug on senseless 911 calls. It's a clever, catchy music video that promotes Rock County's non-emergency number. Country crooner Jamie Campbell repeatedly sings 757-22-44 to drill the number into listeners' heads.

Operators at 911 centers serve as our lifelines, whether we need police officers, fire trucks or ambulances. These operators work in a hectic, even frantic environment. They must assess situations and quickly decide what help to send.

“We only have so many lines for 911,” Kathy Sukus, Rock County communications director, explained in Tuesday's Gazette. “When you get car accidents on the Interstate or something, they all light up. If we're tied up talking about a barking dog and someone needs emergency help, they won't get through.”

It's as simple as that, folks. Unfortunately, people call 911 for directory assistance, as pranks or even because they're bored. The problem isn't unique to Rock County.

Officials here, however, hope residents who take in the music video will ingrain 757-22-44 into their memory banks—or their cellphone contact lists. The video idea came from a friend who sent Sukus a link to a video produced in Franklin, Tenn. Sukus got permission to adapt the song for Rock County's use.

Sukus isn't the only person who deserves credit. Campbell of the Beloit-based band Jamie Campbell & The Redneck Romeos agreed to sing. He and fellow musician Jim Carrapp wrote new lyrics, changing Tennessee's lyrics to fit Rock County's non-emergency number.

Also volunteering time and talents were Janesville videographer Tony Huml and Mike Austin, WJVL disc jockey. Dispatchers served as backup singers. Most of the local agencies the 911 center serves sent squads and officers to lend realism.

The result is on YouTube and available for radio public-service announcements. It will air before movies at Janesville and Beloit theaters. To pay for commercial time, the 911 center will use budgeted money that previously went to billboards. It's too bad that tax dollars must go to raise public awareness, but this music video might keep 757-22-44 ringing in listeners' ears and reduce the need for future investments.

If you're involved in or witness an accident, shooting, fire, violence, medical emergency or a dog that's threatening someone, don't hesitate to call 911. If you hear strange noises and fear someone might be breaking into your home, dial 911. For any immediate threat to property or human life, ring 911.

To get winter road and weather conditions, dial 511 instead of 911.

If, however, you want to report vandalism that occurred overnight, pay a traffic ticket or learn when the fireworks will launch, call 757-22-44.

Watch the video. Repeat as necessary. Remember, 757-22-44.

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