Case Study

Metropolitan Nashville E-911 Public Awareness Call Reduction

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Calling 9-1-1 is for life-threatening emergencies only. Unfortunately, many people, young and old, don’t understand this and make unneeded calls. A leading 9-1-1 industry group (iCERT, the Industry Council for Emergency Response Technologies) has issued a study showing 9-1-1 calls rose 26% nationwide over the last decade (from 190 million to 240 million calls). Unlike most of the nation, Nashville’s 9-1-1 emergency response call volume sustained a steady decline for 14 years because of DVL Seigenthaler’s ongoing public awareness campaign. However, in 2014, volumes began to rise.

911 Rescue Rex coloring book cover and Outdoor Public Relations Campaign images in Nashville, TN | DVL Seigenthaler


Challenges / Objectives / Implementation

The Metro Nashville Emergency Communications (E-911) Board partnered with DVL Seigenthaler to get calls back under control. DVL Seigenthaler designed and implemented a new awareness campaign complemented by a long-running effort using a dinosaur character named Rescue Rex to educate Nashville’s youngest citizens on how to use 9-1-1 correctly.

Public Awareness:

In 2015, out of 447,000-plus 9-1-1 calls received in Nashville, nearly two-thirds came from wireless sources. So, reaching wireless phone users is a primary target along with Nashville’s growing Spanish-speaking population. There are 60,000-plus Spanish-speaking residents in Nashville, or 10% of the population.

The advertising campaign made heavy use of English and Spanish-language radio spots and outdoor boards along with online digital ads placed on local news sites. Because Nashville’s emergency services operate only in Davidson County, DVL Seigenthaler selected media executions that cost-effectively reached those who live or work here, as well as cell phone users.

Rescue Rex:

The Rescue Rex program (2015-16 school year) was presented in 90 schools where the dinosaur performed 120 shows before 12,355 students. The Rescue Rex coloring books delivered to all school children are offered in both English and Spanish. The Spanish books also help parents and grandparents who do not speak English to understand 9-1-1.

The Rex website ( helps teachers learn about the show, book performances and download copies of our songs and pages from the coloring book. Lesson plans in English and Spanish are also available.


When the new campaign began in September 2015, we started seeing a decrease in monthly calls. By January 2016, call volumes were back in the negative column overall with a 10% decline.

To end the year, 9-1-1 calls in Nashville in 2015 totaled 447,498. That number continues a 14-year streak of calls below the peak (499,000) set in 2001. Thanks to the newly revised public awareness campaign, calls are back under control and declining again for the first time in nearly 2 years, while other cities still see their 9-1-1 calls increasing.