SIRCOMM seeing an increase in accidental 911 calls and hang ups, what the public can do to help
JEROME, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — Emergency dispatchers are on duty 24/7 and are there for you in any emergency you may have, but right now, they are asking the public to be aware of a rise in 911 hang ups and what you can do to help them.
More than 90% of 911 calls are made from cell phones, and right now, a staggering new statistic is bogging down the emergency dispatcher’s phone lines.
“In 20-22 we had 6,700 911 hang up calls, in 2023 so far, just shy of 4,000 and we’re not even halfway through the year yet,” said Kristy Churchman, the director of SIRCOMM.
Even if it is an accidental 911 call, it is the job of an emergency dispatcher to verify that there isn’t an emergency, which means calling the number back.
“What that does is, it ties up a 911 line, the first call that comes in and then when the dispatcher has to call it back it ties up a 911 dispatcher and another phone line and of course when a dispatcher is calling that number back it can’t answer the other 911 calls that come in, it’s really bogging gown the system,” said Churchman.
There are a few things the public can do to help.
First is to check the settings on your phone.
Many smart phones have settings where if you push certain buttons, it will automatically call 911. This can be changed in the Emergency SOS settings in your phone’s settings.
In an I-Phone, this can be found in the general settings menu, under Emergency SOS, and the settings can be changed from there.
In an Android phone, go to your settings menu, click on the magnifying glass, search for Emergency SOS, and the settings can be changed from there.
Second, don’t hang up if you do accidentally call.
“Just stay on the phone, say oops it was an accident, and the dispatcher is going to ask you 4 questions, do you have an emergency, what is your name, where are you currently, and is anybody there making you say something you don’t want to, or can you speak freely?” said Churchman.
She says this will greatly help free up the phone lines for people who are needing to get through immediately.
“It definitely takes a lot of time to go through the process of answering it, trying to figure out where it’s at, put the call in, if the line is still open we have to stay on the phone with that open line, until someone gets on the phone it disconnects or have an officer that says for us to hang up and call it back,” said Angel Hunsaker, the deputy director of SIRCOMM.
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