Please, call 911.

Please, call 911.

Not right now. But definitely when you have an emergency situation where you need help.

In the last few weeks, we have seen an alarming increase in the number of people direct-calling our fire stations to report emergencies.

Just last month, a person called from their vehicle to report a house fire on Burbank Drive. The call went to the Reed Road station. Fortunately, fire personnel were in quarters and able to take the call and start toward the scene. But this isn't always the case.

When the firefighters assigned to the trucks are on runs, or at training, or obtaining fuel, there may be a totally vacant firehouse. This can lead to a critical delay in the public receiving the help they need.

If you need emergency help, the number to call is 911.

It's been that way for decades.

You may be a person who remembers the days when fire and police departments handed out adhesive stickers to attach to your phone. Back then, both UAFD and UAPD had separate, seven-digit numbers designated for emergencies.

Guess what? Those old numbers still work. They will ring in to the dispatcher. And you will still get help.

But it's not nearly as easy or helpful as calling 911.

As Franklin County residents, we pay a monthly fee on our phone bill to receive "Enhanced 911" service. This premium allows the answering dispatcher to automatically see your address and the number you are calling from on a computer screen. They can send emergency assistance, even if you pass out while on the phone or have trouble calling because of a stroke or diabetic condition.

Those advantages aren't automatic when you call an alternative number. And they aren't available at all when you direct-call a fire station for help.

The same goes for people choosing to drive or walk to a fire station with someone who is ill or injured. You are taking the chance that emergency personnel will be present. And if "no one's home," the delay might make the difference in the outcome of the patient.

So for the sake of efficiency, and to obtain the quickest emergency response to your situation, keep it simple and always call 911 in an emergency.

That helps us so we can help you.

Dan Kochensparger is the Public Information Officer for the Upper Arlington Fire Division.