Accidental 9-1-1 calls becoming an issue in Oklahoma

Oklahoma state 9-1-1 coordinator Lance Terry says that over 30% of calls in Oklahoma are...
Oklahoma state 9-1-1 coordinator Lance Terry says that over 30% of calls in Oklahoma are accidental.(Kemper Ball)
Updated: Sep. 25, 2021 at 7:03 PM CDT
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ARDMORE, Okla. (KXII) - > Thanks to the invention of cell phones a 9-1-1 call can be placed practically anywhere. But as that technology has advanced and made contact emergency services easier, it has created an unexpected technical issue.

According to Oklahoma State 9-1-1 coordinator Lance Terry, cell phones have been a huge help for dispatchers.

But as new advantages have arrived, issues have come with them.

“Now we get 50 9-1-1 calls from one accident scene which is great because we can pinpoint it and get closer to it,” Terry said. “The problem is that over the last 10 years we’ve had a real problem with accidental 911 calls.”

Terry says that accidental 9-1-1 calls were rare in the past.

But over the last decade they’ve become more frequent, accounting for over 30% of all 9-1-1 calls in Oklahoma.

“If we dispatched law enforcement, police, fire, EMS to 30% more calls it would delay all other real emergencies,” said Terry.

He also says that in areas that can track it, over 90% of these calls come from iPhone through shortcuts like pressing the lock button 5 times.

And while it might seem like a small accident, Terry says the impact can be overwhelming.

“Its not just that oh I’m calling 9-1-1, I’m calling 9-1-1 and there’s an open line,” Terry said. “So now that I have that open line the 9-1-1 operators have to figure out what is going on there, they have to listen in and listen for background noise.”

Terry says that the only way to eliminate the problem would be for people to turn these shortcuts off in their settings.

But he also understands the need for quick access to emergency services.

So instead he asks that if you realize you’ve accidently called 911, just let them know.

“When it happens and people see it, just stay on the phone, tell us it was an accident, because that’s going to save us a tremendous amount of time.”

Terry also says that if you hang-up your accidental call and they call you back, don’t decline and ignore the call. Tell the dispatcher that you made a mistake so they can get back to responding to emergencies.

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