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2-1-1 has proven its value
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The 9-1-1 emergency services phone number has been widely used since the mid-1980s. In fact the 9-1-1 system has become so popular that it has become the "catch-all" for all kinds of public needs, inquiries and requests. 9-1-1 was never intended for anything other than bona fide emergencies, yet callers are using it to ask for directions, phone numbers, advice and other non-emergency matters. It is a problem that has decreased the efficiency of the 9-1-1 system and has tied up emergency phones at times with dire consequences for people experiencing life-threatening emergencies.

Now there is a new service available in Stanislaus County that connects people with important information that otherwise can be difficult to obtain and is not centralized in any one easy-to-access location. This new system is called Stanislaus County 2-1-1, and is available to everyone. There is no fee for these services and we are expecting it to reduce the overload on the 9-1-1 system, while providing a unique and valuable service that can help people with their everyday problems and life's challenges.

Stanislaus County 2-1-1 is the result of a joint partnership between various agencies, including United Way, local governments, and other public service institutions. 2-1-1 can be contacted 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.

Some examples of 2-1-1 information and referral services are for basic human needs like food and clothing, consumer services, criminal justice and legal services, education, environmental quality, health care, income and employment, individual and family life, mental health care and counseling. The list of subjects that 2-1-1 can assist with is lengthy and covers most all subjects affecting one's life. To learn more about the 2-1-1 information and referral service, you can go to to access all of its features. Operators are available at all times to speak directly with you about issues, problems or needs.

2-1-1 has already proven its value during the recent huge fires in Southern California, with victims and other people in need having been able to access services without tying up critical 9-1-1 emergency lines. It is also an important resource for our police and firefighters who often come across situations that exceed the resources and time available to them. It is of great help for them to be able to provide the 2-1-1 number directly to the persons needing it, or they can make the calls themselves to get things started.

From a public safety perspective, I am pleased that the public now has this consolidated service at its fingertips. It shows the clear potential for adding to the overall quality of life for persons living in Stanislaus County. And in terms of the benefits our 9-1-1 system will derive, 2-1-1, once the public gets used to dialing it instead of 9-1-1 for non-emergencies, it will eliminate some of the caller congestion we experience in our emergency communications center, which will translate into fewer delays in getting emergency services to people who really need them. I commend those who implemented 2-1-1 in this county, for it will surely prove to be a great service.