MIDWEST CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – Firefighters in Midwest City are noticing a dangerous trend that could have serious consequences.

Third-party 911 calls to the department are a growing concern, putting lives at risk.

Recently, firefighters in Midwest City were called to a house fire with eight children home at the time it sparked.

The trouble is – they’re not actually the ones who called 911.

“They called Mom first,” said Chief Bert Norton. “Mom’s the one that called 911.”

Norton says when the person who calls 911 isn’t on the scene of the incident, this can lead to a number of problems.

“Obviously, seconds count and time matters for us to get there to have the best possible outcome if someone is trapped in there, but our dispatchers are trained,” Norton said. “They ask a lot of questions – the information that they relay to us. When it’s a third party, they really don’t know.”

These third-party calls are something Norton says his department is seeing more frequently.

In the case of an emergency, people are calling a loved one first, then that family member calls 911.

“The other person hangs up, makes the phone call and says, ‘Hey, there’s a fire at such and such, you know, X-Y-Z address,’ ‘OK, is everyone out of the house?'” Norton said. “‘Well, I really don’t know.’ And that’s critical information that we we rely on our dispatchers to be able to to to tell us.”

Norton says if you’re involved in an emergency, it’s important you or someone else on scene with you makes  the call so you can have a dispatcher on the phone with you.

“They have that open line of communication, that one a lot of times offer some sort of comfort because they are you know, as you know now, they’ve been classified first responders, but they’re very well trained in those critical situations on how to relay message and keep the people calm on the other end,” Norton said. 

Norton says COVID-19 has kept them from doing the classroom talks the department used to, so he’s not sure if that’s led to more of these calls.

However, he says it’s important to review fire safety and emergency protocols with your children.