Pocket 911 calls tie up police resources
Stock photo of a 911 dispatcher (photo supplied)
BRACEBRIDGE, ON – Bracebridge Ontario Provincial Police is asking people to modify cell phone settings to reduce the number of dropped 911 calls, or so called pocket dials.
Bracebridge Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officers have responded to almost 400 pocket dials and unintentional 9-1-1 calls during the first three weeks of July 2019 alone and this contributes to an ongoing concern about tying up police resources and taking time away from real emergencies. It is a problem throughout the cottage country area from Parry Sound to Muskoka to Haliburton.
For Bracebridge OPP officer Samantha Bigley it can mean a long drive to investigate the call and see if someone needs help.
“This time of year with so many people widespread with their seasonal residences in the outlying areas we can spend a lot of time driving and chasing down these calls. From one end of the detachment area to the other it is quite some distance, like an hour drive,” said Bigley.
Bigley says some cell phone companies provide fairly specific GPS information, while others can only manage the general area of the nearest cell phone tower, which is what leads to the long drives.
“We have some well-patrolled cell phone towers,” says Bigley of the phantom call investigations.
It is imperative that if you have called 911 by mistake that you stay on the line and explain to the operator what happened. If you just hang up they will try and call back and if no contact is made that is when the police are sent to look into it.
Police say you should not program 911 into your phone, and that you should keep it locked or in a carry holster that prevents accidental activation. Operators, by law, must follow up on calls through any means necessary. This has resulted in police officers finding people on golf courses, and marine units doing welfare checks on water access only lakes.