Terre Pruitt's Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘311’

Need A Service? Try 211

Posted by terrepruitt on December 14, 2016

About two years ago I wrote about a phone number, 311, that you can call when you have a non-emergency police issue.  Well, actually it is a number for non-emergency municipal services.  I thought it was a state-wide number, but I found out when my dad died that it is not.  When I dialed it, it did not connect.  The deputies in his area didn’t know what it was, so clearly they do not have 311 in that area.  In California it is available in the following cities:

Anaheim, California / Berkeley, California / Los Angeles, California / Oakland, California / Riverside, California / Sacramento, California / San Francisco, California / San Jose, California

Well, last week I was working on a computer at the community center where I teach Nia and stretch and a woman asked if they had a list of people who give home assistance.  I stopped to listen because I was interested in finding such a list, too.  But then the person behind the desk said, “No, but you can call 211.”  All of us in earshot stopped to hear more.  Apparently 211 is an informational resource.  You can call 211 to get information about things.

211 is NOT a city service, it is an informational service run by the United Way.  It seems that this number is available to “people across North America.”  According to the website they can supply you with “non-emergency community, health and disaster information.”  The website says the people who can help are trained to answer questions about variety of services.  The site claims that it is confidential.  The site boasts that the service is available 24 hours a day seven days a week and in over 170 languages!

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia in the City of San Jose, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex classes, YMCA, Zumba, Nia Technique, SJ City Fit, SJCityFitSo it sounds like they can give you ideas and information on who to call when you need various services.  The drop down list of services on their website lists:

Crisis + Emergency, Disaster Assistance, Food, Health, Housing + utilities, Human Trafficking, Jobs + Support, Reentry, and Veterans.  That is a broad list.  I am thinking it covers just about everything.

The service providers are not vetted nor do they go through any type of screening process.  There is an inclusion policy.  So in order for organizations to be included they have to meet all of the criteria in the policy.  But the website does have a disclosure stating that the United Way assumes no liability for the information on the website or services provided by the providers on the website.

So it is somewhat just a directory.  But still it is nice to have this information available.  It could be that they are a better more succinct version of Google.  Perhaps the chances of getting distracted are less.  One call can be made an a list provided as opposed to being able to get distracted with all the other stuff on the internet.

Just like 211, I make no claims and assume no liability if you do end up using the site or calling.  I just like to share information when I learn it.  It could end up being useful, it could not.  Either way, I still think it is interesting.

Did you know about 211? 

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311 Can Save The Day And Possibly A Life

Posted by terrepruitt on February 1, 2014

The other day prior to the start of my Nia class a student walked in sharing a situation and asked who to call. The group of students gathered suggested she call 911. I was on the other side of the room preparing to teach so I am not certain, but I thought she said had been, but could not get through. Then she asked, “Who should I call?” since it was NOT an emergency situation I suggested she call 311. One of my students said, “You mean 411?” And I said, “No. 411 is information, I mean 311. It is the police but it is a non-emergency number.”

Apparently this group was not familiar with this service. The conclusion reached by the group was: call 911 and ask them what to do. That is exactly the type of call the 311 is designed to handle. 311 is there to assist in NON-EMERGENCY situations that may require municipal services. So it is not exactly police, but municipal services. It is there to allow people access to public services, such as police, but in situations that are NOT emergencies. After experiencing a group of people who was not familiar with this public service I asked more people if they were aware of this number and I was very surprised that most of the people I asked were not familiar. So that prompted me to write this post. The number 3-1-1 is available in a lot of major cities in the United States and communities in Canada. Now, remember this is a number you can call when IT IS NOT AN EMERGENCY. So, if you call it and it is not available in your area you can always call the local police number for instructions and information. Since it is NOT an emergency you have time and the mindfulness to research the correct number you should be calling instead of 911. The number 911 is for EMERGENCIES and if used in non-emergency situations could be considered a crime. While I think if you were truly trying to help someone or something you probably wouldn’t have charges brought up against you, it seems that if you could keep the EMERGENCY lines open for actual and true EMERGENCIES you would be doing us all a service.

Wiki states: A promotional website for 3-1-1 in Akron described the distinction as follows: “Burning building? Call 9-1-1. Burning Question? Call 3-1-1.”

You can call 311 if you want to report graffiti . . . or someone parked blocking your driveway . . . or someone in your neighborhood is lighting off fireworks . . . . or it is 2:30 am on a Monday night and the neighbors are playing the music so loud your windows are rattling . . . there is also that car has been on your street for a few days and every time you see , has “less”(first the tires are gone . . . then the bumpers . . . etc.) . . . basically things that are NOT EMERGENCIES, but are causing you concern or might require municipal services.

The first use of this number as a non-emergency service number was in 1996 in Baltimore, Maryland. Previously it had been used in Hollywood as the area code for phone numbers in such movies as “When a Stranger Calls”, “The Rockford Files”, “Ghostbusters” and more according to Wiki.

If 311 is available in your area, calling it instead of 911 could free up EMERGENCY services for actual EMERGENCIES.  It is possible that if more people were aware of 311 people would not get a busy signal or be put on hold when they call 911 in an EMERGENCY SITUATION.

Do you have 311 in your area?  Have you ever called it?  What type of non-emergency would you use 311 for?

Posted in Misc | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »