2-1-1 relieves pressure on 9-1-1 and emergency response teams by providing an easy to remember telephone number for non-emergency needs. This frees up emergency responders to deal with real emergencies.
Examples of how 2-1-1 provides assistance in non-emergency situations include:
- Information on Evacuations such as Traffic Closures/Alternative Routes;
- Emergency Shelter/Housing;
- Food Assistance;
- Social Services;
- Family Reunification and;
- School/Work Closures
2-1-1 also serves as the central point to to call for updated public health and safety information. During the H1N1 flu pandemic of 2009, many Californians dialed 2-1-1 to get a better understanding of its contagiousness and identify steps to protect themselves. Police and first responders often dial 2-1-1 to help domestic abuse victims find safe emergency shelter, and social workers often provide clients information on substance abuse, marriage/family counseling, job training resources and more. 2-1-1 also connects parents to a variety of critical programs including preschool, parenting classes, and after-school problems.
“The 2-1-1 service was an invaluable resource during the [2007 San Diego wildfires] in that it freed up calls from 9-1-1. We could give information on repopulated neighborhoods to the 2-1-1 operators. We saw 9-1-1 calls diminish over time because of that.”
-- San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore