A local sheriff's office is reminding residents and visitors alike that pocket dialing, or butt dialing, 9-1-1 ties up valuable resources, especially if there is another genuine emergency happening. Recently the Pine County Sheriff's Office took more than 20 of these calls in one day, which prompted the social media reminder.
The Pine County Sheriff's Office took to social media Monday after its dispatchers answered more than 20 pocket/butt dial 9-1-1 calls on Sunday.
Yesterday we had 21 incidents where 911 was called unintentionally.
When cell phones unintentionally call 911, it is often referred to as a "pocket dial" or "butt dial." This situation occurs when the emergency number is dialed accidentally by the phone, usually due to pressure on the touchscreen or keypad while the phone is in a pocket, purse, or bag.
Here's what typically happens when a cell phone unintentionally calls 911:
Connection: When a call is made to 911, the call is generally connected to the nearest emergency call center or Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) based on the phone's location.
Verification: The 911 operator will answer the call and say something like "911, what is your emergency?" They are trained to handle emergency situations and will try to assess the situation quickly.
Assessing the situation: If the caller remains silent or doesn't respond, the operator will attempt to determine if there is an actual emergency. They may listen for background noise, ask specific questions, or try to establish contact with the caller through verbal prompts.
Callback: If the operator suspects that the call is unintentional or accidental, they may attempt to call the number back to verify the situation. In some cases, they may also use the phone's GPS to determine the location.
Follow-up actions: The actions taken by the operator may vary depending on the situation, but if they cannot confirm that the call was accidental, they may send emergency services to the location provided by the GPS or callback.
To avoid unintentional 911 calls, you can take some precautions:
Lock your phone: Use the lock screen or keypad lock to prevent accidental dialing.
Disable emergency calling shortcuts: Some smartphones have emergency calling shortcuts on the lock screen. Check your phone's settings to disable or customize these shortcuts if necessary.
Be cautious with voice assistants: Voice-activated assistants like Siri, Google Assistant, or Alexa can sometimes misinterpret commands and dial emergency services unintentionally. Use them with caution, especially when your phone is locked.
Carry your phone carefully: Make sure your phone is securely placed in your pocket, bag, or purse to minimize accidental pressure on the screen or buttons.
Remember, accidentally dialing 911 can tie up emergency resources and divert attention from genuine emergencies. If you accidentally call 911, it's best to stay on the line and explain the situation to the operator to avoid any unnecessary actions by emergency services.
I appreciated that the post included tips for cutting down on pocket dialing.
The biggest takeaway from this post from the Pine County Sheriff's Office is that every second matters in an emergency and when dispatchers are having to deal with pocket dials or inadvertent calls it can take away from real emergencies that are happening.
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