2,800+ Accidental 911 Calls to Guelph Police in June
The Guelph police department is urging the community to exercise caution and remain on the line in response to a significant rise in unintentional 911 calls. In the previous month, the police received a concerning total of 2,821 accidental 911 calls, averaging nearly 100 calls per day, which is more than double the number from the same period last year. Scott Tracey, the media relations coordinator, attributes this increase largely to phone software updates.
Tracey explained that recent software updates have made it simpler for cell phones to initiate 911 calls, which is beneficial during emergencies. However, this positive advancement has unfortunately led to a substantial increase in unintended emergency calls. One specific update involves the unintentional activation of 911 by repeatedly pressing the volume button. This can occur when a phone is moving around in a cup holder, stored in a purse, or placed in a pocket, resulting in accidental emergency calls.
While Tracey emphasized that disabling the feature is not necessarily recommended, he suggests considering whether it is necessary if accidental calls persist. At the very least, individuals should be mindful of how they carry and where they place their phones. Another significant reason for accidental calls, according to Tracey, is that people often overlook the fact that a cell phone without a SIM card can still connect to 911.
Tracey highlighted instances where individuals give old phones without SIM cards to their children to play with. If the child dials 911 or activates the aforementioned feature by repeatedly pressing the volume button, it will initiate a call to 911. In such cases, the child may panic and hang up, or they might be too young to provide the operator with the necessary information. To prevent these situations, Tracey recommends removing the battery or ensuring that the phone cannot be powered on before giving it to children to play with, as this would significantly reduce accidental calls.
Accidental 911 calls continue to increase. We received approximately 100 accidental 911 calls a day last month. If you accidentally call 911 STAY ON THE LINE; our 911 operators must exhaust every effort to contact you until you pick up to ensure your safety. #guelph #guelphpolice pic.twitter.com/LNAqEVw5RW— Guelph Police Service (@GuelphPolice) July 17, 2023
Additionally, Tracey advised against programming 911 into personal phones, as the number is intentionally easy to dial. It is crucial to refrain from testing if the phone is working by calling 911, as these types of calls consume a substantial amount of time and resources for the police, who are obligated to follow up on them.
Tracey emphasized that even if the accidental call is ended immediately after dialing, the call has already connected on the police’s end. The connection is almost instantaneous, and by the time the caller sees the phone dialing, the call has already been established. Therefore, it is crucial to stay on the line if an accidental call is made, as every second spent by an operator following up on an unintentional call is potentially a missed opportunity to address a genuine emergency.
The police department is working to address the surge in accidental 911 calls and encourages the community to exercise caution, be mindful of their phone usage, and prioritize staying on the line in case of unintentional calls.