by Bob Geary
So here's the deal. You have to dial the area code now. So you dial 9-1-9. Oops, you dialed 9-1-1 by mistake.
In Wake County, that happened 5,655 times.
So you did that, and now what? Well, you just hang up, right?
5,655 times NO!
You stay on the line.
Otherwise, the cops think you called 9-1-1 because somebody was breaking into your house and you hung up because that somebody just put a gun to your head.
That's what they're paid to think. You want them to think that way. They send a patrol car. They have to.
It's a big waste of their time and your tax money.
So if you misdial, they ask that you stay on the line. Tell the operator, "Oops. No problem here."
(How do they know that the guy with the gun didn't tell you to say that? I dunno. Probably the tone of your voice.)
Anyway, this has gotta be the sixth or maybe 16th plea we've gotten from the Raleigh-Wake emergency responders on this subject. We pass it along in hopes it will help a little.
Ten-Digit Misdials Continue to Plague 9-1-1 Center
Four months after its introduction, ten-digit dialing continues to cause significant problems for the Raleigh-Wake Emergency Communications Center. Instead of dialing the area code 919, callers are mistakenly dialing 9-1-1 and hanging up.
Misdials and hang-up calls divert resources away from actual emergencies since dispatchers must dial back on hang-ups to assure that an emergency is not taking place. If no response is received from the call-back, dispatchers send a police officer to the source of the call to make certain that no assistance is needed. During the second quarter of this year, emergency operators answered nearly 25 percent more 9-1-1 calls, and made almost 60 percent more outgoing calls than they did during April, May, and June of last year.
The bulk of these numbers are a direct result of the requirement to dial 10 digits within our area code. As a result, real emergencies can’t be answered as quickly as they used to be because 9-1-1 staff is engaged in dealing with these erroneous calls.
During July, 5,655 dispatches were made to check on the welfare of hang-up callers, a rate of 7.6 per hour which is the highest number recorded since the problems began with the introduction of 10-digit dialing. Nearly 3,2000 of these dispatches were within the City of Raleigh. While some calls were verified and cleared prior to an officer’s arrival, Raleigh Police still spent more than 300 hours last month responding to 9-1-1 hang-ups.
“If you dial 9-1-1 incorrectly, it is imperative that you stay on the line,” said Emergency Communications Director Barry Furey. “The only apparent cure is careful dialing. We can’t fix this issue without the public’s help.”