Accidental 9-1-1 Dials a Growing Problem for WFPD Dispatchers

By Melissa Foy |

Published 08/27 2014 05:46PM

Updated 08/27 2014 06:18PM

Forty-five thousand.

That's the number of accidental calls Wichita Falls Police Department dispatchers had to deal with last year.

Carla Turner, WFPD communications supervisor, says, "It's a really big problem for us because when we really have an emergency, we're spending too much time having to call the callers back when it was just a misdial, it was in a pocket, someone was playing with a phone."

Turner says dispatchers deal with about 100 calls per day where kids are playing with phones and accidentally dial 9-1-1.

"When someone really has an emergency, it ties our dispatchers up trying to call them back making sure there wasn't an emergency," Turner says.

It's a problem she says continues to grow along with the popularity of smartphones.

"The smartphones are so sensitive to the touch and sometimes, most of the time, people don't even know they're calling," Turner says.

Most of the time, Turner says dispatchers get callers' voicemail.

There are steps you can take to help dispatchers make sure they have time to help those who are truly in need.

"We ask that people lock your phones, maybe put a code on your phones," Turner says. "Or just keep your children from playing with the phones and that will help also."

And if you do accidentally call 9-1-1, Turners say to stay on the line and tell the dispatcher it was an accident.

Abandoned calls are where the calls comes through to dispatch, but the caller hangs up.

Dispatchers have dealt with 7300 such calls so far this year.

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