A Victoria mom did what any parent would do when she got a phone call from her daughter and heard screams and strange noises. She called 911.
The only problem was that her child had actually “pocket-dialled” from her cellphone in a movie theatre where she was watching a horror film.
Staff at the Victoria Police Department communications centre called the daughter to check on her and figured out the scenario.
Police used the incident to stress the issues for emergency operators that are caused by so-called pocket-dialling — accidentally making a call from a phone or electronic device when it is stashed in a pocket or other space.
Abandoned 911 calls, many of them the result of accidental dialling, are on ongoing concern, with 828 received so far this year. That number is about average for such a time period, said Victoria police Const. Mike Russell.
“A lot of resources go into dealing with that.”
Operators are occasionally treated to unwitting pocket-diallers singing their hearts out in the car, but it’s no joke. The abandoned calls are a drain on staff time, since every one of the abandoned calls is checked in case there is a real emergency.
Taking the simple step of putting cellphones in lock mode would solve the issue of pocket-dialling, Russell said.
He said another cause of abandoned 911 calls is parents letting youngsters play with old phones that they no longer use. Even if a phone is not linked to a network, many are still capable of connecting to 911 unless the battery is taken out, Russell said.
The problem of abandoned 911 calls will be discussed later this month at a meeting of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police.
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