9-1-1 Pocket Dials

Pocket Dials/Unintentional 9-1-1 Calls a Growing Problem in Ontario - Impacting Police Resources

With more and more people using mobile devices, police services in Ontario are reporting an increase in unintentional 9-1-1 calls and so-called pocket dials. When unintentionally dialed 9-1-1 calls are made to dispatch centres, they become a public safety issue and can drain on law enforcement resources. The Ontario 9-1-1 Advisory Board (OAB) brings together police personnel to act as advocates for the 9-1-1 system in the Province of Ontario. OAB is partnering with the OACP (Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police) to raise public awareness of the unintentional/pocket dialed calls. The OAB and OACP have found that hundreds of unintentional/pocket dialed 9-1-1 calls are being received daily by police services across Ontario from cell phones and other devices where no emergency exists.

Pocket dials happen when a keypad on a mobile device carried in a pocket, purse, backpack, etc. is accidentally pressed. Unintentional 9-1-1 calls are generated from a mobile device and are not intended as emergency calls. Unintentional 9-1-1 calls tie up phone lines that deliver 9-1-1 calls to CERB which handle 9-1-1 calls.

For every unintentional/pocket 9-1-1 call received, a 9-1-1 operator must determine whether an emergency exists.  Every second counts when someone is waiting for an emergency communicator to pick up a 9-1- 1 call and dispatch police, emergency medical services, or fire.

What the public can do to prevent pocket or unintentional 9-1-1 calls:

• Lock keypads by using the keypad feature or put the device in stand-by mode. This will not impact a user’s ability to receive a phone call, but may significantly reduce the chance of a pocket dialed calls. Keypad locks, some of which can be programmed to activate automatically, prevent a mobile device from responding to keystrokes until the user unlocks the keypad using a short combination of key presses.
• Turn off the 9-1-1 auto-dial feature, if your mobile device has one. To determine whether a device has this feature and how to turn it off, check the user manual or the manufacturer’s website, or call the service provider.
• Refrain from programming a wireless device to speed or automatically dial 9-1-1 and prevent small children from playing with such devices.

If You Place an Unintentional 9-1-1 Call:

The caller should stay on the line. Every 9-1-1 call is taken seriously. When a 9−1−1 caller doesn’t respond, that could be a sign of trouble – a possibility an emergency responder can’t ignore. Users are urged to let the emergency operator know it was a pocket dial/unintentional call. This will eliminate the need for the emergency operator to call back to determine if there is a legitimate emergency, saving precious seconds and allowing them to move on to the next emergency call.

Let’s all do our part in keeping our community safe.