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Abuse of E911

Updated on February 14, 2010

Phanthom calls

"911 what is the address of your emergency?" This greeting is repeated half a million times a day nationwide in America. As a result Ambulance, Fire, police and any other personnel which might be needed to bring help to the distressed caller is dispatched. Each call is different and each person's life is depending on the speed and skill of that emergency operator.

However, if that operator hesitates or is occupied the outcome could be horrendous. Each emergency telecommunicator is drilled and trained to expedite each situation undeterred;but what if your call never got through? What if, when you dialed 911 the phone was busy or rang and rang without an answer? Impossible? Don't bet on it, there are approximately 3.6 million Phantom calls to E911 ever single day in the U.S. . .

You are probably asking yourself "How could this happen?" The answers are, Several different ways. We will list just a few, and you will be surprised to find out who the culprits and their cohorts are.

1, Pocket dial: A large number of phantom calls and / or hang-up comes from cell phones. One of the reasons for this is that most cell phones now use one button dialing, meaning that if you hold down one button too long it will automatically dial E911. So if you don't lock your keys when you store your phone in your pocket or your purse and the button presses against your body or something in your purse or your pocket and thus a phantom call is born.

2. The disconnected phone: With the cell phone revolution taking place, and everyone having his or her own personal phone, the land line or home phone is swiftly becoming a thing of the past. However, even though the land line has no service many times they remain charged up or plugged in; a child picks up the phone or is given it to play with, and it isn't too long before they are making friends (or enemies, as the case may be) with the E911 dispatcher. Parents if you give your toddler phones to play with be sure to take out the batteries first. Remember that cell phones and land lines will both still dials E911, even if it has no service and / or has been disconnected.

3. The Prankster: These of all the phantom calls are the most dangerous, the reason being? These types of calls often mislead the call taker with the prankster spilling out some bogus story of a robbery, rape or murder. Pranksters will often lead the E911 operator to believe that he or she is the one in danger and in mortal fear of their lives all the while giving the call taker bogus and misleading information. This is much harder to do now with phase II enhanced 911 systems; because in these systems there are identifiers and locators that help operators to zero in on the caller. Still each time an E911 Telecommunicator is tied up with a false call it puts many people at risk.

Doing our part for safety

You may say ok I see all these facts but what can I do? Safety is everyones concern, and everyones responsibility. If you give your child a cell phone or old house phone take out the batteries before you do that. Teach children when to and when not to dial E911,remember proper training of the E911 system can help your children save lives.Be responsible with your cell phone lock the keys before putting it in your pocket or purse. Also remember that cell phones won't show the E911 person where you are; so be sure to get your location in somehow if you are unable to say where you are at the beginning of the call don't hang up, drop the phone if must but leave the line open.

When you dial E911 be as calm as possible, panicked or irate callers further complicate the situation. Use the investigative reporter rule:

1. Where

2. What

3. who

4. how

5. why

Be sure to tell the operator things like if there are weapons, dogs in the yard, if the doors are locked and if anyone has been hurt or injured. Another good thing to tell the dispatch is the color and type of house ( wood, brick, vinyl siding,etc.) also let the operator know what kind of cars are in the yard (make, model, and color).

Make your calls as concise and percise as possible, if the situation changes be sure to call back and update the call. Don't wait too long to call, most people wait until the situation is life threatening before making the initial call. When this happens they are in extreme danger, you must remember that the officers and emergency responders still must have time to get to you.

Lastly don't make small talk on the E911 example:"911 where is your emergency?" Hey, good day, how are you?" These niceties have no place here, be courteous, percise and concise, stay focused and stick to what is relevant.

E911 telecommunicators constantly drill and train to help we the public in our time of need. We owe it to these talented, selfless, and caring unsong heroes to be responsible with our disconnected phones, cell phones and to teach our children the proper use of E911. Let's do our part by training the children, checking and properly discarding old disconnected cell phones and home phones. Report people who may be prank calling E911 and when we call let's make sure that we give accurate information about the situation. E911 is a life saver for everyone of us let's use it properly



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    • Sally's Trove profile image


      8 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Excellent advice for everyone, especially about locking cell phone keys before placing the phone in your pocket or purse. Thanks for the good information.

    • Angela Blair profile image

      Angela Blair 

      8 years ago from Central Texas

      Great Hub, Johnny -- and imperative advice for all of us. Thanks for the info -- Best, Sis


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