WFPD 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