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911 dispatchers deal with bogus calls

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January 4, 2008

Albany - - When you have an emergency, you depend on 911 operators to help you. But many people intentionally and unintentionally abuse the service. When someone calls 911 as a prank or even as an honest mistake, it ties up valuable resources and time that could be spent saving a life.

You call when you need them most.

"They're going to ask you the nature of your emergency and then they're going to assist you with that call," says Interim Communications Manager Charlotte Floyd.

By dispatching police, fire, or EMS directly to you. But a good portion of the calls coming into Albany's 911 center are bogus.

"Do you often you get misdials?" we asked Floyd.

"Often," she replied.

"Daily?" we continued.

"Daily!" Floyd said.

Many times, from children who've discovered a new fascination with these three digits.

"Curiosity just gets the best of them, so they call."

You don't have to be a child to mess up. Your cell phone can even call 911 while its in your pocket and you may not even know it.

The National Emergency Number Association says mistaken cell phone calls to 911 make up at least 25 % of all calls, and in some communities up to 70 %. Albany's center can relate.

"Probably most everybody with a wireless phone has 911 programmed in. Just watch what you're dialing."

It applies even if you're using a land line. Police say this happens when many people simply misdial area codes, take for instance Georgia area code 912.

"But if you do dial us, please don't get upset just stay on the line with us because were going to call you back."

It's better she says to tell them of the mistake before they send an emergency crew to your home, because that's the standard precaution.

"We just cant take that chance because we don't know at that point of time if its an emergency or not."

Because if it is, you'll be glad someone was coming to your rescue. 

Dispatchers say if you have a cell phone, you should consider locking the keypad when you're not using it so it won't slip and make calls you don't know about and teach your children that 911 is only for a real emergency.

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