NEWS

211: State setting up new number to call when situation is not urgent

Michaela Stanelun

Think about this number before you immediately dial 911: If it’s not urgent, an alternative number is 211.

Mass2-1-1 is set to become the commonwealth’s primary telephone information call center during times of emergency.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and the Council of Massachusetts United Ways have agreed jointly to activate the phone number 211.

The number was designed, in part, to reduce the number of nonemergency calls made to 911.

MEMA Director Don Boyce said in a statement, ‘‘Up until now, MEMA has utilized an ‘800’ number staffed by the citizen information service of the secretary of state’s office.’’

Now, when the state emergency operations center is activated for an emergency situation, those staff members will serve as liaisons between Mass2-1-1 staff and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Team.

Dialing 211 will give callers access to updated disaster information, post-disaster programs, and tracking of caller locations.

Mass2-1-1 also has the ability to act as a registration site for volunteers and donations during an emergency or crisis.

Mass2-1-1 operates its call center Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., with the ability to activate 24 hours a day, seven days a week during times of emergency.

Michaela Stanelun may be reached at mstanelun@ledger.com.

The Patriot Ledger