Butt dialing a problem for 911 centers

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) -Nationwide accidental or "Butt Dialing" accounts for nearly 40% of 9-1-1 calls. That percentage may not be as high here in Jonesboro but it is still a problem.

Jonesboro E-911 Coordinator Jeff Presley played a few accidental calls for me. I asked how many they received in a day.

Presley, "On a two year average report that I read a few days ago, we were averaging about 50 misdialed,misdirected 911 calls." That's per month out of nearly 4 thousand calls per month.

911 operator Johnine Polston said her shift had been unusually busy with many accidental calls.

Polston was getting ready to head out the door but she said it had been an odd day. "I've only been here a few hours today and I've already got a dozen calls. People accidentally sitting on their phones, dialing us."

Not every phone can make an accidental call.

The smart phone like an Android, won't do it. In fact after I unlock the screen, push the Emergency Call button, press the connect button a message pops up and asks you to input your emergency number. "Is there more than one?" I wondered.

But there are phones that will butt dial relatively easily.

Polston, "It would be the ones with the raised key pads. The smart phones are less likely obviously do an accidental dialing for 911."

Experienced operators learn to listen to a miss-dial for talking, movement, work sounds but if no sounds or unusual sounds are heard.

Presley, "We start the GPS coordinates getting the location of that phone trying to find out where they're at." Also operators will usually call the number back.

Police or fire are not generally dispatched unless something unusual is heard.

Polston, "If we get something that's obvious, you hear screaming, you hear commotion, things may be breaking or falling, obviously were going to try and call that number back if it's displayed on our screen." She said.

Don't these calls waste your time away from real calls I asked. Polston replied. "We're here for the community. We're going to do whatever it takes to make sure someone is safe. And calling those people back if we feel like there is a need we're going to do that."

It appears that until all raised keyboard cell phones go away, these calls will keep coming in.

Polston shook her head. "I'm not sure that there would be a way to prevent it. I'm not sure on that."

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