The Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville command center has established a new phone number to report emergencies.
The new search-and-rescue emergency phone number is: (904) 714-7558.
“The Coast Guard urges you to call this number if you believe you are in any danger or there is a potential for your situation to worsen,” said Lt. Christina Erapalli, chief of the Sector Jacksonville command center.
Erapalli stressed that the phone number is for emergency use only, and that anyone who willfully places a hoax call is guilty of a felony and may face penalties including incarceration, fines and a civil penalty as well as reimbursement to the Coast Guard for costs incurred while responding to a hoax.
“Hoaxes can also place our rescuers’ lives in unnecessary danger and reduce our ability to respond to persons who may truly need help,” she said.
A secondary phone number is available to report other emergencies, such as pollution, suspicious activity, waterway issues, and any other maritime concerns: (904) 714-7557. Boaters, however, are encouraged to continue to report emergencies via VHF radio on channel 16.
The change to new phone numbers is a result of Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville’s recent move to a new joint facility. This facility houses the Sector Jacksonville command center, where search and rescue and other operations are coordinated.