The next few days will prove whether Sedgwick County learned from last year’s Fourth of July, when so many people tied up 911 complaining about illegal fireworks that calls reporting a serious motorcycle accident couldn’t get through. In all, there were 1,101 complaint calls about fireworks use over that holiday period. As Randy Bargdill, the county’s director of emergency communications, told The Eagle: “We need to go back to calling 911 for emergency calls only. It’s not a convenience call, it’s a necessary call.” Most of the year, the county advises people to make nuisance complaints using local law enforcement nonemergency lines, such as those for police in small cities or the Wichita Police Department substations. But from 6 p.m. Wednesday until 3 a.m. Thursday, people are asked to make nonemergency calls to 316-290-1011. The county’s message wasn’t entirely out last week: 59 percent of Wichitans polled Wednesday by SurveyUSA for KWCH, Channel 12, said they didn’t know there was a fireworks hotline. In Wichita, it’s legal to shoot fireworks through Thursday. And be careful out there: Wichita can do better than last year’s four fireworks-related fire calls and 70 fireworks-related medical emergencies.
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