By Oliver Lazenby
With Canadian cell towers close by and a dispatch system that differs from most towns, dialing 911 in Blaine can be muddled.
Seeking to clear up any confusion, Blaine Police Department press secretary Lisa Moeller recently reiterated what to do when placing an emergency call from Blaine: dial 911.
Calls in Blaine requiring police are dispatched through the U.S. Border Patrol. Because of that, some Blaine residents started to call the border patrol dispatch center directly,
Calling border patrol could lead to an extra step in dispatching the proper services, such as those in need of fire or medical services, Moeller warned.
“There’s a delay that shouldn’t happen or wouldn’t happen if you called directly to 911,” she said. “We want to encourage people to call 911 or the non-emergency number tbecause if they have an incident, it’s fairly common to need both fire and police, or aid personnel and police, to respond.”
Emergency 911 calls in Blaine and all of Whatcom County first connect to the What-Comm 911 dispatch center in Bellingham. A dispatcher there determines whether the caller needs police, fire or medical response. Many calls need a combination of those services, Moeller said.
Calls requiring police responses in Blaine, Lynden and Sumas are transferred to the US Border Patrol dispatch center in Blaine.
Callers using cell phones along the border could be connected to a dispatch center in Canada. In Blaine, that can happen for calls placed on cell phones north of D Street, Moeller said. Callers should be alert to that possibility and clearly state their address as being in Blaine so Canadian dispatchers can patch the call to What-Comm.
Callers near the border who are concerned they’ll reach a dispatch center in Canada should call What-Comm’s non-emergency number, 360/676-6911, Moeller said. The Blaine Police Department’s non-emergency number is 360/332-6769.
The city of Lynden is looking into changing its dispatching to the What-Comm system at an annual cost of about $140,000, according to the Lynden Tribune. Border Patrol provides dispatching services to Lynden, Blaine and Sumas for free.
This article originally misstated Blaine Police Department’s non-emergency number. The correct number is 360/332-6769. We regret the error.