Many of us have been there: inadvertently calling 911 due to being unaware of our new cell phone's high tech emergency features. You push the wrong button too many times, and voila, emergency services is being dialed.
Between January and November of 2017, Sask911 operators took 330,281 calls. 58 percent, or 190,296 of those were from a cell phone and 12 percent or 40,046 were abandoned, meaning the caller hung up after dialing.
The provincial government wants to protect the integrity of their 911 system and free it up for actual scenarios, due to the number of calls received from individuals simply testing features, or accidentally hitting the wrong one, and so they are reminding people to get an understanding of how the device works. A common misconception is that certain combinations or features will activate a locating transmission.
"With some of these apps, and of course with social media as well, you get some misnomers where if you hit the home button three times or hit the power switch, it's going to contact 911 and supposed to broadcast your location. That does not work in the province of Saskatchewan or in Canada for that matter, to my knowledge," expressed Fire Chief Dale Feser.
For example, iPhones with newer operating systems can have their lock button clicked five times to have the option to swipe SOS. Then, the smartphone dials 911. However, while features such as emergency location broadcast are not a part of the equation, that doesn't that it doesn't work in the other direction.
Feser pointed to a situation that took place a few days ago, where a man was reported missing. He was able to be located through his phone, and was rescued before the succumbed to the bitterly cold elements.
"We can ping a phone to basically find out where that individual is, within about 15 meters, should that happen. These types of things are definitely used by emergency services, but you still want to make sure that you are just using the conventional method of calling 911, to the provincial call center, and giving as much information as needed."
Ways to help prevent accidental 911 calls include...
- Locking your phone when carrying it in a purse, pocket or bag.
- Manually dialing 911 in an emergency instead of preprogramming it in your phone.
- Teaching your children the importance of 911, and when and when not to be used.