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Accidental 911 calls are taxing emergency responders

Make sure your phone doesn't contribute to the problem

Dispatch centers across the state and across the country are experiencing a significant uptick in pocket dials and hang-ups — with some 911 call centers seeing these calls go up 300 percent.
These misdials often require dispatchers and law enforcement officers to follow up with the caller to see if there is an emergency, which prevents them from answering other legitimate calls for emergency help. 
In Rock County, our dispatchers have reported similar dropped 911 calls.
For example, there were 411 abandon 911 calls in 2022, according to Margaret Pettit, lead dispatcher in the Rock County Sheriff’s Office.
This year she said there have been 347 abandon 911 calls since Jan. 1, 2023. In May there were 84 and so far since June 1 there have been 55.
“Accidental 911s have always been and continue to be an issue for our agency,” Pettit said. “The update with Android uses has certainly increased this.”
While public safety leaders investigate what may be causing this spike in accidental calls, there are steps the public can take now to help ease the strain. 
•The public is asked to be aware that devices, such as cell phones or smart watches, can make emergency calls. Knowing how to activate the “Emergency SOS” feature can reduce instances of accidentally triggering a device — especially during high-movement activities.  
•Sometimes it’s just an instance of lint or grease jamming the trigger, so cleaning and maintaining the device may be another solution.
•Locking keypads using the keypad lock feature prevents a phone from responding to keystrokes until the user unlocks the keypad to intentionally make phone calls.
Finally, anyone who calls 911 by mistake should not hang up. The public is asked to let the dispatcher know the call was a mistake so they can end the call and move on to the next caller. 

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