9-1-1 Abandoned Calls, Misdials, and “Pocket Dialing” Causing Problems For WFPD Dispatchers

911WFPD Dispatchers are getting their systems jammed daily by “accidental” calls made to 9-1-1.  These calls are coming in to 9-1-1 in the form of:  1) abandoned calls (where the call comes through but the caller hangs up), 2)  misdials (where the caller meant to call another number, mainly a number with a 691 prefix),  3) “pocket dialers” (where phones dial while in pockets, purses, or backpacks), and 4) small children playing on the phone.  In 2013, WFPD Dispatchers received over 45,000 illegitimate calls to the 9-1-1 call center and are on pace to match or surpass that number this year.   “A 911 operator must stay on the line to make this determination,” according to a Federal Communications Commission press release. “If no one answers, the operator may spend even more time trying to reach the caller, or even dispatch emergency services to help the caller. These efforts waste resources and divert scarce public safety personnel from other 911 calls reporting real emergencies.”  For those with phones that have an emergency button, cell-phone manufactures are looking into solving the problems too.

To avoid tying up the emergency lines it is recommended that you follow these basic tips:

–  Lock your phone (use a passcode or other safety feature to prevent accidental dialing)

–  Do not hang up, stay on the line (If you realize you’ve made an accidental call, instead of quickly hanging up, emergency personnel say you should let the dispatcher know it was an accident. Otherwise, the dispatcher will have to spend time to find out if it was an accident or an emergency.)

–  Keep your phone out of the hands of children

 

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2 comments on “9-1-1 Abandoned Calls, Misdials, and “Pocket Dialing” Causing Problems For WFPD Dispatchers

  1. I work at a 9-1-1 dispatch center as well and we are having these same issues. I would urge everyone that if they accidentally call 9-1-1, please stay on the line and talk to us. You will not get in trouble for an accidental call and if you hang up, we’re just going to call you right back anyway.

    The other step I would urge you to take is learn the features of your cell phone. Most cell phones now have a way to quickly dial 9-1-1. When the phone is in your pocket it can easily dial 9-1-1 if you do not have it properly set up. It will call 9-1-1 over and over again as it bounces around in your pocket until your local dispatchers are pulling their hair out.

    Even a phone that is disconnected or doesn’t have service can still dial 9-1-1 (that is a legal requirement for phones now). For this same reason, don’t let children play with your phone just because you think it is disconnected. It will still dial 9-1-1.

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