2-1-1 San Diego helping, connecting people during Lilac Fire; volunteers still needed at 2-1-1

2-1-1 San Diego, an independent local nonprofit that serves as a resource for community, health and disaster services, reports it increased its service capacities in the hours following the outbreak of the fast-moving Lilac Fire in North San Diego County.

According to John Ohanian, president and CEO of 2-1-1 San Diego, operators answered more than 12,000 phone calls during a 24-hour period between noon on Thursday, Dec. 7, and noon on Friday, Dec. 8. In comparison, on a normal day, typical call volume is approximately 1,000 to 1,200.

“We thank our staff, volunteers and County of San Diego’s disaster service workers for their overwhelming dedication and support to our community,” said Ohanian. “Because of them, 2-1-1 was able to meet the needs of the thousands of people who are relying on 2-1-1 to speak to a live person to better understand critical information about evacuation areas, road closures, temporary shelters, school closings, emergency food needs and sheltering for horses, farm animals and pets.”

The Lilac Fire broke out around 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 7, just west of Interstate 15 and north of Lilac Road in Pala Mesa. It scorched at least 4,100 acres near Fallbrook, destroying more than 182 structures and prompting an estimated 10,000 North County residents to flee their homes. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Through a simple, three-digit phone number, 2-1-1 San Diego serves as the region’s information source during times of disaster to connect people to vetted and up-to-date resources and to relieve the impact on public safety and the 9-1-1 system. 2-1-1 San Diego said it has been working around the clock to provide vital disaster information. Officials urge the public that if you need to talk to a live person about disaster-related information, please use 2-1-1 and only call 9-1-1 for life-threatening emergency situations.

Meanwhile, additional volunteers are needed at 2-1-1 San Diego headquarters in Kearny Mesa. Information about volunteering is available at www.211sandiego.org.

“I am very proud and thankful of the partnership the Sheriff’s Department has with 2-1-1,” said San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore. “Calls to the Sheriff’s 9-1-1 Communication Center doubled when the fires broke out and our dispatchers were still able to answer 89 percent of these calls in under 15 seconds because of the service provided by 2-1-1. Volunteers at the call center provide invaluable service by answering non-emergency calls that would otherwise clog 9-1-1.  Volunteerism such as this makes San Diego County a better and safer place to live.”

2-1-1 San Diego, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, connects more than 500,000 people annually to more than 6,000 community, health and disaster services, 24-hours a day in more than 200 languages,  through a simple three-digit number, searchable online database and online chat. 2-1-1 San Diego also serves as a community information exchange and a single-access point for people who need vital information, referrals and navigation about food services, health services, housing, utilities, transportation, financial and legal assistance, along with health and wellness assistance. 2-1-1’s Community Information Exchange technology improves the lives and health outcomes of San Diego’s through improved care coordination that unites information across our community providers, making access to services seamless. For more information about 2-1-1 San Diego, visit www.211sandiego.org or follow them on Facebook @211sandiego or on Twitter @211SD.

Author: Rick Griffin

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