Cell Phone Usage
Have you ever placed your cell phone in a bag, on your belt, in a pocket, or even just on the seat next to you or on a counter? By failing to lock the keypad or turn off certain features you are taking the chance that your cell-phone will needlessly dial 9-1-1.
Most cell phone manufacturers build a 9-1-1 speed dial into their phone. This speed dial feature could possibly be useful, but it can also be detrimental to public safety agencies when it is misused. When that button is pushed because the phone is rolling around in a bag or because it is hit by the seat belt while you drive, we in public safety often need to put a legitimate request for service on hold to answer that 9-1-1 when there is no one on the line.Cell-phone misdials aren't just a nuisance, they can be very dangerous.
At the Aspen-Pitkin County Communications Center (APCCC) we frequently take emergency calls for service. These can range from a fight in progress or a prowler to reckless drivers or providing C.P.R. instructions over the phone. It is necessary to minimize the amount of time these calls are on hold so that we can assist the caller as much as possible. When a 9-1-1 call rings to us we have to put any other calls on hold in order to answer it. If it is a cell-phone misdial, we need to log that information in our computer system and attempt to call the cell-phone back to ensure there is no emergency. All the while any other calls we were handling are still on hold. Consider that anyone, even you, may need help from us during which we might have to place you on hold to answer a cell-phone misdial.APCCC logged 3,668 cell phone misdials last year alone.
There were many, many more misdials we were unable to log because of the urgency of other calls, and the overall frequency is increasing. Most of the misdials occur during the workday making the average time between cell-phone misdials one every hour between 9 am and 5 pm.
There are a few simple ways to keep this from happening.
- Turn your keypad off between uses. This does not mean you phone is turned off, just that the keypad cannot accidentally be activated and thereby preventing a 9-1-1 misdial. Consult your owner's manual for instructions (they're not difficult).
- If you feel confident you can remember the number for 9-1-1 (here's a hint, it's 9-1-1), turn off the auto-dial feature. This will make sure your cell phone doesn't accidentally dial 9-1-1 when you bump against your desk or steering wheel. Again, consult your owner's for instructions.
- Not all manufacturers make the same features work the same way. You may need to lock your keypad and disable the autodial feature to ensure you don't mistakenly dial 9-1-1.
- Many phones will automatically redial the last number dialed when the send key is pressed. If that number just happens to be 9-1-1, you could redial it without knowing.
- There is a product designed to help prevent accidental misdials. It consists of custom made rubber rings that surround the emergency button on your cell-phone and prevents most accidental pushes, but still allows direct pressure to use that button. Ask for them at your local wireless store.
- Cell-phone misdialing is a growing problem. Simple education and attention to how your cell-phone works can help us help you better.