Local News

Misdials to 911 continue year after Triangle starts 10-digit dialing

Posted April 16, 2013 3:45 p.m. EDT
Updated April 16, 2013 4:22 p.m. EDT

— A year after area residents were forced to start dialing the area code when making local calls, people still cannot tell the difference between 919 and 911, officials said Tuesday.

Callers who mistakenly dial 911 instead of the area code have led to a 20 percent increase in calls to the Raleigh-Wake Emergency Communications Center over the last 12 months, officials said. The number of people who quickly hang up before a 911 operator can respond has almost doubled, they said, while the number of return calls made by emergency operators has soared by 80 percent.

Operators in March handled the highest number of misdials since August, officials said, adding that the downward trend in recent months hasn't been enough to provide relief to the dispatch center. Operators are handling about 100 more 911 calls a day than they were before 10-digit dialing began.

Misdials and hang-up calls divert resources from actual emergencies because dispatchers must dial back on hang-ups to ensure that an emergency is not taking place, officials said. If no response is received from the call-back, dispatchers send a police officer to the source of the call to make certain that no assistance is needed.

Law enforcement had to respond to more than 62,000 hang-up calls last year, including 36,000 in Raleigh, officials said.

Officials urged residents to dial more carefully and to remain on the line if they do dial 911 by mistake to save emergency personnel from wasting time.