Unless you live under a rock, you know that for fire, police and other emergencies you can dial 911. Did you know that you might not need to?
There is a service in six Oregon counties called 211. This is also a single easy-to-remember number that helps people find assistance with critical health and human services information and in an emergency can support effective disaster response.
In simple terms this means that if you live in Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington, Crook, Deschutes, or Jefferson, calling 211 may be what you need. These services are limited due to lack of funding but hopefully in the future will be available statewide.
It can be overwhelmingly difficult to find a phone number for an agency or help line. We often give up and go without necessary services. By calling 211, a person can get information or referral for family and individual needs, financial assistance, housing and shelter, healthcare, food, government programs, mental health, education, and employment.
In normal times and in disasters, this number provides information to deal with a personal crisis, leaving 911 for life-threatening situations.
Next time you have a need that is not life-threatening; remember 211 might be available to you. If it’s not today, it may be tomorrow. The 211 program is currently covering approximately 78 percent of the US population with varying degrees of service in 26 states including statewide coverage in Washington, Idaho and Utah.