911 misdials continue to cause problems

June 20, 2012 3:26:33 PM PDT
Less than three months since 10-digit dialing began in the Triangle, the Raleigh/Wake 911 Center has seen its call volume increase by 25 percent.

Hang-ups to 911 often signal serious emergencies, like when someone has passed out after dialing, or when an attacker grabs the phone. The rate of hang-ups since mandatory 10-digit dialing started is up 600 percent.

When someone hangs up in a call to 911, dispatchers have to call the numbers back and check. If no one answers, they have to send an officer. The result is even more time and tax money spent that could be avoided if people dialed more carefully.

Officials said taking your time when dialing could even save a life.

"Take your time. Make sure that if you're dialing '919' that you do dial that '9' and not the second '1'," said Raleigh Emergency Communications Director Barry Furey. "Because, quite frankly, just taking a few extra seconds to make sure you dial correctly could conceivably save somebody's life."

Even if you do mistakenly dial 911, dispatchers urge that you simply stay on the line and quickly explain your mistake.  That way, they won't waste more of their time and possibly the time of a police officer as well.  

Officials also said many of the misdialed 911 calls are coming from businesses since many business phones require dialing "9" before calling any number. Apparently, adding in "919" is causing even more misdials.

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