Accidental 9-1-1 Calls Taking Away from Real Emergencies

Brown County, Texas (KTAB) - Brownwood/ Brown County Dispatch center takes 20-50 9-1-1 hang ups a day.

9-1-1 is supposed to be a simple number made to help you out in emergency situations.

Although it helps people call quickly and easily, sometimes it's too easy.

Gage Snell, a dispatcher for Brownwood 9-1-1, says that one accidental call takes them at least one minute to try determine if its an emergency call or not. He says that he never knows if they hung up on purpose or if it was truly an accident.

Snell says that when they receive a call that appears to be accidental, they will try to stay on the line long enough to pin the location of the person. If the call isn't dropped or the person doesn't hang up, allowing them to find the caller's location, they will dispatch an officer to check on the caller.

It's when the call is made and automatically dropped that makes it difficult for the dispatchers to pin the location of the caller.

"Only thing at that point is to call back."

Communications Supervisor Deedra Molotsky says she will call the number back all day long until the person answers, just to make sure they are safe.

But the real problem is that the accidental calls are capable of tying up real, emergency 9-1-1 calls.

"You never know what you are going to get, you just take a deep breath and hope for the best call, one that you're going to think about for a while, or if it's one that will be easy to take,"  says Tiffany Beard, who works for Brownwood dispatch.

She also says that if they are really busy, "if they are on traffic, or on an accident or on a pretty bad call, it interferes with it all."

"It becomes frustrating especially if it's the same number over and over again that keeps calling and you can't get a hold of the person or they are rejecting your call, or if its a little kid that is not giving the phone back to its parents."

Brandon Martinez, says he has pocket-dialed 9-1-1 several times because of the auto emergency button on his cell phone.

"Well, whenever I have done it, on multiple occasions I was in the middle of work and didn't know till I took a break and looked at my phone and saw I had called 911 but I always call them back and let them know it was a mistake."

Snell says "if you do call 9-1-1 on accident, a pocket dial or if your child is playing with the phone, please stay on the line and let us know that the call was an accident so we know you are okay, and we can hang up and move on with our calls." 

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