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Dial 911 by mistake? Stay on the line, officials say

Posted August 3, 2012

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— Four months after its introduction, 10-digit dialing continues to cause significant problems for the Raleigh-Wake Emergency Communications Center.

Instead of dialing the 919 area code, more and more callers are mistakenly dialing 911 and hanging up, Raleigh officials said. That prompts a return call from dispatchers, who must verify whether there is an emergency.

If the caller doesn't answer, law enforcement officers are sent to the address listed with the number.

In July, officers were dispatched to check on the welfare of 5,655 hang-up callers – a rate of 7.6 per hour. It's the highest number since problems began with the March 31 conversion to 10-digit dialing, said Emergency Communications Director Barry Furey.

Nearly 3,200 of those dispatches were in the city of Raleigh. While some were cleared before the officer arrived, Raleigh police still spent more than 300 hours last month responding to hang-up calls, Furey said.

Furey stressed that response times to real emergencies are affected when call-takers and dispatchers are occupied with mistake calls.

Emergency dispatchers Misdials can delay emergency response

Anyone who dials 911 by mistake is urged to stay on the line to verify the error.

"If you dial 911 incorrectly, it is imperative that you stay on the line," Furey said. "The only apparent cure is careful dialing. We can't fix this issue without the public's help."

Prior to the area code requirement, the Raleigh-Wake 911 center dispatched officers to about 900 hang-up calls per month. From March to April, that number increased by nearly four times.

In Cary, the number of 911 hang-up calls tripled – from an average of 350 hang-up calls each month from January through March to nearly 1,050 calls in April, town officials said.


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  • justincaseur2 Aug 3, 2012

    I've almost dialed 911 by accident several times in the last couple week and I'm someone who is pretty good with their hands.

    This will keep happening until it gets changed. The powers that bee need to change the prefix from 919 to something that isn't so easy to screw up if we aren't going to require a 1 in front of the 919. Someone didn't do their market testing prior to implementation.

  • monkeyboy Aug 3, 2012

    you're out first, golowral. hit the bricks and don't look back.

  • golowral Aug 3, 2012

    Get rid of some people and ban construction. The area is over-grown as it is.

  • JohnnyMcRonny Aug 3, 2012

    "Otherwise, we should be assigned a new area code and do away with 919. All of the rest of the state has changed to a new area code, except us." - kpowell104

    Short memory. Remember the fuss of the folk who had to switch from 919 to a new code?

    It is idiotic to change an area code because people can't work out how to use a phone correctly. There's only so much stupidity that can be accommodated.

  • samdutes Aug 3, 2012

    A lot of the commenters need to learn a little about telephony and translations......but I have enjoyed reading the comments on this story....:D

  • JohnnyMcRonny Aug 3, 2012

    "Or people who are just dialing too fast, or can't see the phone very well, or so on and so on." - hazeyc

    Well, then dial more slowly. Or look at the phone (unless you're driving when you should not be using it anyway). Or just be more careful. How about don't be a klutz? Sheesh, if you can't operate a phone...

  • kpowell104 Aug 3, 2012

    I think we should go back to dailing "1" before the area code to prevent this from happening. Obviously, no one dials 1-911. Otherwise, we should be assigned a new area code and do away with 919. All of the rest of the state has changed to a new area code, except us.

  • JohnnyMcRonny Aug 3, 2012

    Just charge $100 per 911 call. That'll make ya dial more careful.

  • hazeyc Aug 3, 2012

    I wonder how many of the calls are children calling their parents or grandparents. I could see how they easily could mix it up. Or people who are just dialing too fast, or can't see the phone very well, or so on and so on.

  • bdaughtry2 Aug 3, 2012

    > so talk to the rocket scientist who started the ten digit dialing system and reverse it- problem solved - duh

    Talking to the govenment never gets you any where.....complete waste of time.