OREGON CITY, Ore. -- Emergency dispatchers are not earthquake predictors. They are there to help people in need of police, fire, or medical emergency help.

But every time there is an earthquake large or small, people call 911 to report it or ask if one occurred, when they actually have no emergency to report.

Wednesday's earthquake was centered near the little town of Scotts Mills, in northern Marion County. It did virtually no damage, and didn't injure anyone. Everything stayed on the shelves at the local market. But it was felt in nearby Molalla and dozens of others places throughout the region.

4.0 earthquake near Molalla felt across region

People described it as a strong jolt followed by five seconds of shaking.

And at the 911 center for Clackamas County, just a few operators on duty took more than a dozen non-emergency calls at the same time some emergency calls were coming in. And this was all for a pretty minor quake.

“If we have a major event, there will be someone who cannot get through to us on an emergency. Because people are curious, they’re checking, they want to make sure what happened,” said Mark Spross, Clackamas County communications manager. “And we get it, they’re scary events, we don’t have earthquakes that often in the Pacific Northwest. But we really want people to think before they make those phone calls. If they’re calling 911, they’re ultimately tying up an emergency line.”

Spross recommends checking local media and online resources for information on earthquakes or other incidents. And, of course, if you have an emergency call 911.

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