False 911 Call Stretches Resources Thin

Posted at 5:56 PM, May 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-18 20:11:42-04

On a typical day the Duck River has been known as a peaceful place, tucked in the valley of downtown Columbia. However, Tuesday afternoon was a much different story.

"The call came in as just a dead body in the water, floating face down," Columbia Fire Department Assistant Chief Kirk Marks said. 

Crews were on the scene in minutes but quickly realized things weren't as they seemed.

"The story changed a couple times. The original caller initially said, 'No, it's just debris.' Then they said, 'No, I think it is a body,'" explained Marks. 

Despite that, crews headed into the river to begin their search.

"As soon as we put people in the water we still have to go through the same process," said Marks. "You have to deal with the downstream safety, upstream safety, so you're bringing in a lot of resources for that type of call."

However, Columbia's Fire and Rescue wasn't the only agency impacted.

"We work closely with Maury County Fire for our water team. We combine resources so we're putting them on standby," Marks said. 

First responders were in the water a little over an hour. When it was clear there was no body in the water, they used the opportunity as a  training exercise. 

However, it turns out non-emergency calls happen more often than many may think.

"Very often actually," said Marks. "Even something as simple as an alarm activation, you have to treat it like this is going to be a structure fire."

It leaves tax payers responsible for flipping the majority of the bill.

"You can be looking at, for an hour call, maybe looking at $1,500, $2,000," Marks said. 

However, it's money well spent if it means a life saved.