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Nearly 100 pocket dials to 911 tying up OPP in Northumberland County

File photo of 911 on a cell phone.
File photo of 911 on a cell phone. Kativ / Getty Images

Northumberland OPP say officers responded to nearly 100 unintentional 911 calls or hang-up calls in the last two weeks of June.

READ MORE: Tempted to call 911 to complain about an Amber Alert? Don’t

The incidents occurred between June 17-30, police said.

According to Const. Kimberly Johnston, that number is about 30 per cent higher than the normal 911 call volume.

“This higher than normal number could be due to the increase in population because of the high number of tourists that visit our communities and travel our highways to get to their vacation destinations,” she told Global News Peterborough.

Johnston noted many of the “pocket dials” occurred when a mobile device had accidental contact with the device’s screen or buttons, sometimes when the phone is in a backpack or pants pocket. Police also say the prevalence of smart watches synced to smartphones are also being attributed to the unintentional calls to 911.

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Johnston said an emergency communicator must determine whether a real emergency exists and if police, fire or paramedics should be dispatched. She advises that if you place an unintentional 911 and an operator calls back, remain on the line to let the emergency operator know your current location. This  allows police the option to come and check on your well-being.

“Every 911 call is taken seriously,” stated Johnston. “When a 911 caller doesn’t respond, that could be a sign of someone in distress ⁠— a possibility an emergency responder can’t ignore. This then results in officers being dispatched to try to locate the caller to ensure that there is no emergency, taking up even more time dedicated to the call.”

READ MORE: Lost jackets and bad Christmas presents: weird reasons Canadians called 911 in 2018

Johnston says to prevent pocket dials:

  • Lock a phone’s keypad and/or buy a protective case with a full screen cover to prevent contact with the touch screen.
  • Avoid programming a wireless device/land line phone to speed dial 911.
  • Ensure the auto-call feature is turned off if a smart watch is synched to a smartphone

“With every unintentional call received, precious seconds may be taken away from someone who really needs help,” she stated.

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Peterborough paramedics launch campaign to address non-emergency 911 calls