Russell Jones, Project Manager for the Next-generation 911 emergency call centre initiative wants cellphone users to be more aware of their devices since a considerable number of 911 calls to the centre are found to be ‘pocket dials’.
Jones said for the month of June alone, the 911 system processed 2,061 calls and out of those calls, 1,320 were either ‘pocket dials’, unintentional 911 calls, or ‘children playing with the phone’.
They said these types of calls have become burdensome for operators — a burden that is now affecting the centre’s operations.
“The 911 operator is trying to determine if the caller is in distress and cannot speak directly, but instead end up hearing random conversations as the caller is walking or just conversing with people in their area,” Jones told BVI News via email.
“Time spent trying to figure out if someone is in distress might affect response time to a valid life or death 911 call,” he explained.
Lock your phones
Jones said the situation can be reduced if persons initiate a security lock on their mobile devices before putting them away.
“Keep your conversations private and please lock your phones,” he urged.
“Some phones default to the ‘Emergency Dial Only’ screen and will dial 911,” he added.
Jones also had some words of caution for parents.
“For those parents that give children their phone to play games to keep them quiet, monitor what children are doing with your phone,” he said.
The Project Manager said, very soon, the matter will escalate beyond mere ‘statistics’ and local law enforcers will get involved.
“In the near future, persons or phones that place habitual fraudulent calls to 911 will not be pleased with the response by law enforcement,” he warned.
The emergency call centre is based at the Peebles Hospital and is manned by three main emergency service providers – police, fire officers, and health service workers. They operate on shifts.