911 Agencies Deal With Pocket Dials At Scary Pace
By: Marcus Thorpe
Published: May 10, 2012 Updated: May 10, 2012 - 11:20 AM
CENTRAL OHIO --
It takes a special person to be a 911 dispatcher. You have to be at your best every second of every day.
And dispatchers are ready to act and react when you are having your worst day.
But along with the legitimate calls they receive, there are a prank calls, or accidental calls that come along.
Those calls still have to be answered, and in some cases dispatchers send emergency crews to the scene, only to find out there is not an emergency.
The New York Times reports that in 2010, about 40 percent of the calls to 911 were made by accident.
Tonight at 5 p.m., we are looking into the problem locally. What is being done? Does it slow down response time? And how do dispatchers and emergency crews deal with the growing issue?
Just found this wonderful teaser for a tv news piece. It's nice to see them acknowledging our skills. And truly love the questions asked at the end.
What is being done? Well, a handful of states (mine included), have passed a law about abuse of the 911 system, stating these subjects are subject to fines and citations. Yeah, try to get an officer to actually enforce it. We dispatchers can document all we want, but have yet to see an actual citation issued. Just lots of warnings issued instead. And each department has that one or two callers who call 911 for e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g, emergency or not.
Does it slow down response time? Again for dispatchers, the answer is a no-brainer. 911 calls are a priority. They pop up first on our boards, we put other calls on hold to answer them. And it takes at least a full minute to confirm it is not an emergency and give them a different phone number to call. Or longer when they want to argue with you about it. That means the next 911 call has to wait. And it could be a legitimate call for help. Which slows down the time to make up the request for call for service or for dispatching an officer.
And how do dispatchers and emergency crews deal with the growing issue? Well, as earlier stated, laws are made so people can be cited/ticketed for abusing the system, but aren't being utilized. So, instead, we get frustrated and angry but attempt to answer each 911 call as a potential life threatening emergency call and be as professional and patient as we can with the people who seem to lack common sense.
When we seem to get a high number of non-emergency 911 calls, butt dialed or children playing on phones, I try to take a deep breath and remind myself these @&#& people are my job security.