Pocket dials behind huge number of bogus 911 calls

E-Comm urges cellphone users to take precautions to prevent unintended calls



Pocket dials from cellphones are being blamed for most of the more than 100,000 bogus 911 calls that took up operators’ time last year, diverting resources from real emergencies in the Lower Mainland.

An analysis of call statistics found 10 per cent of more than one million 911 calls received by the E-Comm regional emergency communications centre were dialed by mistake in 2011.

E-Comm estimates more than 70,000 of those calls – or 200 per day – were “pocket dials” in which cellphones in a pocket or purse dialed 911 by mistake. Another 40,000 were abandoned calls where the user hung up.

Growing use of smart phones are behind the increase as they now account for 58 per cent of 911 call volume – an all-time high and up 10 per cent in four years.

E-Comm is asking the public to cut down on pocket calls by using keylocks, storing cell phones in protective cases and not pre-programming 911 into any phone.

If 911 is dialed by mistake, the centre says callers should stay on the line and speak with the call-taker.

When callers hang up, staff will call back to ensure the caller is safe, tying up more resources and in the case of hang-ups from landlines, dispatching police.

Operators who handle the numerous pocket dials must stay on the line and listen for signs that a caller dialed intentionally but is now incapacitated or otherwise in danger.

Call takers say they’ve heard it all, from action at rave parties to intimate moments phone users would never want transmitted.

“I’ve had a lot of calls from Rogers Arena when the Canucks were playing,” says Corey Kelso, E-Comm 911 call-taker. “I’ve heard pucks drop, I’ve heard the announcements, and I’ve actually heard Richard Loney singing the national anthem.”

Just Posted

Car crashes through front doors at Hope Pharmasave

No one injured as a result of Thursday morning crash, and store is still open despite the damage

Hope school board candidates talk SOGI, successes and rocky patches of past four years

Six candidates are vying for three Hope trustee positions up for grabs in an Oct. 20 election

VIDEO: This is what buying legal pot in B.C. looks like

Take a look inside B.C.’s first and only legal pot shop located in Kamloops

Cindy Young makes second run for top political job at the District of Hope

Young, in her run for mayor, is campaigning to attract business to Hope and keep local youth in the community

10 things still illegal in the new age of recreational cannabis

Pot is legal – but there are still a lot of rules, and breaking some could leave you in jail

B.C. NDP retreats again on empty-home tax for urban areas

Rate reduced for all Canadians, dissident mayors to get annual meeting

Ignoring climate change poses potential catastrophe for B.C.

Fisheries scientist says ‘extraordinary challenges’ in water management lie ahead

Grow ops left in legal weeds

“I think people are going to get a big surprise that it’s not going to change things much.”

Driving with dope: Police talk rules on cannabis in the car

Even though pot is legal, you can’t smoke in the car

B.C. teens fined for possession of pot on legalization day

The pair received $230 fines for smoking pot in public

Trio of Saint Bernard find their ‘forever home’ after story goes viral

Edmonton Humane Society had put out the call to adopt Gasket, Gunther and Goliath

Nurses deliver 24,000 anti-violence postcards to B.C. Health Minister

Nurses delivered thousands of postcards to the front steps of the B.C. legislature, each carrying a message for violence prevention

Openly gay, female priest of B.C. church defying norms

Andrea Brennan serves Fernie at pivotal time in church’s history

Most Read