911 Emergency Receives “Pocket-Dials”

by Danielle Cotterman on August 11, 2011 at 7:25 am

Among their already stressful jobs, each day 9-1-1 Dispatchers have to take their focus away from real emergencies and field a growing number of accidental 9-1-1 calls.

In just a 5 hour shift, 9-1-1 received 9 hang-up calls earlier this week. These accidental calls aren’t uncommon. Director of Operations at the Muskingum County Sheriffs Office Kim Hambel said they’ve had more than a thousand so far this year and will send a patrol out to the ones that come from a land-line.

"We don’t know, like I said, if it’s a domestic and the phones been pulled off the wall, we don’t know if you’ve had a stroke or heart-attack and can’t talk and we don’t know if its a fire and you can dial 9-1-1 and run out so we send deputies there," explained Hambel.

The "pocket-dials" – as many people call them – tie up dispatchers and for Shelly Garey whose been dispatching with the Muskingum County Sheriffs Office for 16 years and takes about 200 call each shift, they can become very frustrating.

"If theres an accident on the interstate, you get 4 or 5 calls calling to report these accidents and in middle of all these emergency calls, you get some one that misdials or as some people call it butt-dials and that just adds to the stress we already have," said Garey.

Among the thousands of phone calls Muskingum County Dispatch field each year- more than 700 come from mobile cell-phones. The National Emergency Number Association reported the phantom wireless calls account for 25 to 70% calls to community 9-1-1 centers.