Austin's 911 call center is asking the public to be mindful of pocket dialing. Police dispatch lead Stephanie Lara said 911 call takers receive about 5,000 to 5,500 pocket dial calls a month.
When a 911 call taker doesn't hear another person's voice on the other side of the line.They don't hang up immediately they wait and listen. If no-one answers, they call the person again and try to determine their location. Landlines are easier to track down an address but cellphones only give the 911 call taker a range of where a person might be.That entire process can take time, time away from actual emergencies.
"We want our 911 phones open for people with true emergencies," said Lara. "While we are handling that pocket dial that meanwhile we are going to start holding calls and that might actually be somebody who needs help."
The center has a 99% success rate in answering calls in less than ten seconds. However, Lara said answering pocket dial calls requires an amount of manpower.
"It's a problem also because it takes resources away, we process every call like it's an emergency until it's not," Lara said. "It's about 120 man hours a month to process these calls so you know that's almost another person salary another's person's job that's doing that."
If you accidentally call 911, don't hang up, let the call taker know you misdialed and keep an eye on your mobile devices to free up the line for someone who needs it.