Accidental calls take up valuable time for 911 dispatchers

Posted at 4:30 AM, Jun 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-21 07:23:35-04

CINCINNATI -- A "pocket dial" can take time and resources away from dispatchers, taking anywhere from 90 seconds to three minutes per call.

On one recent day, dispatchers at the Hamilton County Communications Center estimated they'd had between 30-50 pocket dials. With each call, dispatchers must stay on the line to figure out if it's an emergency and they need to send police.

If the dispatchers can't hear anything, they call back to check out the situation.

"While we're in the process of doing that, we're not available for incoming traffic," Communications Officer Marie Rose said. "That's where it poses a problem for us."

New technology is related to the increase in pocket dials, dispatchers believe. A lot of the calls are coming from smart watches to phones in pockets. Children playing with devices are also behind some of the non-emergency calls.

"As long as it has a charge, it can call 911," Director of Communications Andrew Knapp said. "Be aware of that."

They asked that anyone who accidentally calls 911 let the operator know it was an accident and not hang up.