Thousands of unintentional 911 calls are still causing OPP a major headache every year and sucking up valuable resources that would be better served elsewhere.
“What unintentional calls do is tie up emergency lines and resources,” said OPP Staff Sgt. Carolle Dionne. “It’s risking the safety of people who may need help in a real emergency situation.”
From January to June this year, OPP received more than 142,130 911 calls, pretty much on par with last year when a total of 299,100 were made.
Over 2,000 were confirmed as pocket dials but over 30,000 remain as unknown wireless calls.
“While unintentional calls have decreased there is still much work to be done,” Dionne said.
On Thursday the OPP launched the campaign #knowwhentocall and by using social media platforms they hope to educate and remind the public to be careful about the negative effects of unintentional or pocket dials.
Many of the unwanted 911 calls occur when the phone is carried in a pocket, purse, backpack or other piece of clothing.
Some calls are still happening when young children play with cell phones and smart phones.
Even old, inactive devices, with the SIM card removed, can be used to make 911 calls.
For every unintentional call or pocket dial, a dispatcher has to determine whether an emergency actually exists and if emergency services should be dispatched. Two police officers will attend the location where the call was made from.
If you place an unintentional 911 call Dionne advises people to stay on the line and let the operator know it was unintentional.
Dionne said police will still attend each situation “to ascertain and confirm the person calling is safe and OK.”
To prevent pocket dials or unintentional calls:
- Use the keypad lock device to prevent a mobile device from responding to keystrokes until the user unlocks the keypad with a password.
- Turn off the 911 auto-dial feature. Learn how by checking owner’s manual or manufacturer’s website.
- Refrain from programming a wireless device to automatically speed dial 911.