I’m currently involved in efforts in central New York to bring 2-1-1 into the area. 2-1-1 is a nationally recognized and standardized information and referral system for public services. Citizens can dial 2-1-1 (or reference their area’s 2-1-1 website) and obtain information on any day regarding services available to them for a variety of needs from government and local organizations, particularly health and human service related needs.
One of the strongest supporters of bringing 2-1-1 into the area is the county Department of Emergency Services – which oversees 9-1-1. Especially during times of major emergencies and disasters impacting the area, 2-1-1 can relieve the 9-1-1 center of those calls which are important, but not life threatening emergencies. The 2-1-1 center can be provided, directly from service providers, the Emergency Operations Center, or other authorities information on evacuations, sheltering, emergency food and water, points of distribution, traffic and school closures, crisis counseling services, volunteer opportunities, and other information.
California 2-1-1 indicated that during the San Diego wildfires of 2007, 2-1-1 provided information and support to more than 130,000 residents in a span of five days, including over 41,000 calls alone on one of these days (they averaged about 5,000 calls a day during ‘normal’ non-disaster operations). This information, and more, is cited in a 2-1-1 after action document they published titled ‘Trial By Fire’.
Support a 2-1-1 system in your area!