Often when dispatch operators in Door and Kewaunee Counties pick up the phone, there is no one there to greet them. 911 hang-ups and follow-ups is the number one call both counties have experienced over the first half of the year. Kewaunee County is on pace to receive 1,300 such calls in 2020. Door County has experienced over 950 hang-ups so far this year, which accounts for approximately 14 percent of their call volume. Many times dialing 911 is an accident, but Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski says people need to know that those types of accidents still cause departments time and money.
Door County Emergency Management and Communications Director Daniel Kane recommends people stay on the line to explain what happened so follow-up efforts are not needed.
FROM SHERIFF JOSKI
One the most valuable resources we are able to provide to our communities, is the 911 Emergency phone system. It is hard to remember what it was like prior to the introduction of this dedicated line. In 2019 the Kewaunee County Dispatch Center received 2,735 calls for service through our 911 system. These calls included requests for response in matters such as rescue calls, suspicious activity, domestic altercations, fires and motor vehicle accidents. Looking at this list of incident descriptions, it is easy to see the diversity of resources which are then dispatched so as to respond effectively to each unique emergency.
Although I could spend a great deal of time and space writing about the positive outcomes and the men and women who make it all possible, I want to spend some time on a related nature of calls that we must respond to which also take up a great deal of our resources.
Since the advent of the original 911 systems decades ago, there have been calls which have come across those lines which were either accidental, where the caller realized their mistake and hung up or more concerning, calls which came in where the caller hung up because they were under threat and could not stay on the line. Both of these scenarios result in a category we call “911 hang-ups”.
As you can imagine, in either of these cases, we must ascertain the dynamics behind that hung up call as we cannot run the risk of assuming all hang ups were innocent in nature. While many were in fact a result of operator error, there have been those calls where only after following up d we determined that an assault, domestic or other violent situation was occurring.
Regardless of the dynamics behind the hang up, the process for follow up is time consuming and results in sending Officers to the given location. In the early years, this was not a big issue as these types of calls were very infrequent. In 2007 we responded to and handled 181 such calls. However in 2019 these calls totaled 906, and so far in 2020 we are at 684 which would result in a total number of 911 hang ups to reach over 1,300.
Many of these calls are avoidable by each of us being more attentive to our personal electronic devices, where a majority of these calls are originating from. Due to the sensitivity of touch screen technology along with the many technology applications which have become so popular with these devices, these false calls have become a concern.
The good news is that with a little attentiveness to your device and some helpful hints if you do in fact find yourself on the line with a Dispatcher asking “What is your emergency?” we can help reduce both the calls as well as the time associated with separating emergency calls from accidental calls.
In regards to your device, please make sure that before you slip it in your pocket or back in its case, you close out your screens and verify that none of your apps are operating in the background. If possible, store your device in a case versus your pocket as it will be better protected from misdials. Do not program 911 into your device as speed dials are a major source of 911 Hang ups. If you have recently dialed 911, please delete it from your recent call list. Please do not “Test” the 911 feature on your cell phone.
If you do find yourself on the line with one of our dispatchers due to an accidental dial, please stay on the line and provide the proper information to our Dispatcher so that we can close out the call and prevent the need to send officers to your location. If you have already hung up realizing your error, please answer when the Dispatcher calls you back. If you’re wondering how you will know it is Dispatch calling you back, the caller will show “388-4410”
We appreciate everyone’s attentiveness to this issue and I have no doubt we can decrease the number of these calls thus reducing the time and costs associated with them. Take Care & Stay Safe!