Iowa Is Having An Issue With Dialing 9-1-1
In the year 2023, finding someone without a smartphone is a pretty rare occurrence. We use them for work, emails, taking photos, making videos, checking social media, texting, and making phone calls. I'm not sure if I personally know anyone without a smartphone. Heck, you're probably reading this article on a smartphone right now.
It's not just the youth who is using smartphones either. Old-school cell phones are simply being fazed out so if you would like a cell phone, it will likely reach a point where you're left with no choice but to find a smart one.
Because of certain safety features on these phones, Iowa dispatchers have seen an upswing in people accidentally dialing 9-1-1.
Nick Brockman works with the Polk County Sheriff's Office and he told KCCI, we're starting to see the repercussions of smartphones.
A lot of your smartphones today, whether it be Apple devices or Android devices, have features where they can automatically call 911. And we're starting to see a lot of those repercussions.
Whether you have an Android or iPhone, your smartphone likely has a safety feature called "Emergency SOS." While the thought behind this feature is a good idea, it's likely been the root of the problem with these accidental 9-1-1 calls.
The way this feature works on most phones by rapidly hitting the power button 5 times in a row. This can cause a countdown on your phone to call 9-1-1. If you're riding on a bumpy road, have your phone in a cupholder, are on a rollercoaster, riding a horse, etc... it's no wonder why this feature can be easily triggered.
Brockman also told KCCI, they've had the same caller multiple times and in the background, it sounds like they're just watching a baseball game.
There's been a couple of times we've had the same caller call back, you know, multiple times. And when we answer the phone, there's just nobody there. We'll hear baseball games in the background.
Last year, the Polk County Sheriff's Office averaged 24 abandoned calls each day and that has now increased to 32 per day.
What To Do If You Accidentally Call 9-1-1
Other than turning this feature off, there are a few things you can do to help out your local Sheriff's Office if you find yourself in this situation.
- Stay on the line if you notice an accidental emergency call has gone through. When the dispatcher answers the call, you can explain the situation and that you are not in need of assistance. This can help prevent deputies from being dispatched for situations that are not an emergency.
- If you don't realize a call has gone through and you receive a call from the Sheriff's Office, answer it. Once again, you can explain what happened or at least inform them you are not in need of deputy assistance.
If you don't answer the callback or stay on the line, you'll have unneeded deputies sent to your location. Brockman told KCCI
Because of the unknowns, that is a higher priority call for us. And so that could take a lot of time for the deputies that could be responding to other calls.