Red Deer 911 emergency dispatchers received more than 100 accidental phone calls a day through the month of September.
Overall, there were 4,040 accidental calls made to 911 dispatch last month, which works out to about 134 every day.
“One of the biggest (reasons) for those calls is the emergency feature enabled on most cellphones,” explained Matt White, Red Deer Emergency Services assistant deputy chief.
“If you press a sequence of buttons, it’ll call in to 911. Simply placing your phone in the cupholder of your car can activate that sequence of buttons and inadvertently call 911.”
The accidental calls were assigned to the following categories and shared to the City of Red Deer 911 Dispatch Twitter page:
- Open line/pocket dial: 1,161
- Abandoned – wrong number/error: 785
- Abandoned – no answer on call back: 517
- Error dial: 423
- Abandoned – unregistered: 411
- Cell hang up: 289
- Wrong number: 264
- Children playing: 119
- Landline hang up: 71
White said some cellphones that have been deactivated and don’t have a SIM card can still call 911.
“We’ve seen children playing with old cellphones … inadvertently calling in to 911,” said White.
“The problem with those phones is we have no way to call back and verify whether everything is OK. So that takes up a lot of time, as the dispatcher tries to get the attention of someone on the line to make sure there isn’t an emergency.”
Those who do call 911 accidentally should avoid hanging up, said White.
“We’d love it if they stay on the line. Even if they hit 911 by accident and realized their call, as soon as we make that connection to the telephone network it comes through to 911. We’ll have their information, we’ll have their cellphone number – so we have to call them back and make sure there’s no emergency and that everyone is safe.
“Our 911 dispatchers will call back each of those calls, so if they can stay on the line, we can verify with them that there’s no emergency. It would save them from getting a call back and it would save our staff the time it takes to call them back.”