The Dubois County Sheriff's Office is providing the community with information on preventing and handling accidental 911 calls in an effort to keep the line open for emergencies.
The sheriff's office says that with a growing number of children gaining access to new and old cellphones, the number of accidental 911 calls has increased in turn.
"All cell phones that have power will call 911 - even if there is no cell service to the phone," explained Dubois County Sheriff Tom Kleinhelter. "Many people give their old cell phones to their children to play on and those phones will still place 911 calls. Even if a 911 call is placed accidentally, it is important to not hang up. The caller should stay on the line to explain to dispatchers that there is no emergency."
According to the sheriff's office, dispatchers must assume any 911 call is legitimate until they learn otherwise, making it important to clear up any accidental calls that are made.
"If you hang up, we're going to try and find out where that call came from, who made that phone call, there's a lot of work behind the scenes that go on, and it may take away from a true emergency," says Dubois County Sheriff Tom Kleinhelter.
This is an important rule maintained by dispatchers for victims who call 911 but could jeopardize their safety by speaking, though Indiana also has the option of texting to 911 as another public safety measure.
“We certainly want citizens to call 911 anytime there is an emergency. We also want citizens to take the extra step to let us know if their call is a false alarm so we can focus our resources on the most pressing emergencies,” said Kleinhelter.
County Dispatch officials estimate more than 30% of calls to the 911 center were accidental in 2020.
DCSO says that every year, dispatchers in the county field over 12,000 calls.